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JANUARY/F 



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Is Debt Doing in the Arts? 



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Also: TV News and the Gulf War— An Anniversary Assessment 



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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 
VOLUME 15, NUMBER 1 



Publisher: 

Editor: 

Managing Editor: 

Contributing Editors: 



Editorial Assistant: 

Production Staff: 

Art Director: 

Advertising: 

National Distributor: 

Printer: 



Martha Gever 
Patricia Thomson 
Ellen Levy 
Kathryn Bowser 
Janice Drickey 
Mark Nash 
Barbara Osborn 
Karen Rosenberg 
Catherine Saalfield 
Toni Treadway 
Troy Selvaratnam 
Jeanne Brei 
Christopher Holme 
Laura D. Davis 
(212)473-3400 
Bernhard DeBoer 
(201)667-9300 
PetCap Press 



The Independent is published 10 times yearly by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. (FIVF), 
625 Broadway, 9th floor, New York, NY 10012, (212) 
473-3400, a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational 
foundation dedicated to the promotion of video and film, 
and by the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, Inc. (AIVF), the national trade association of 
independent producers and individuals involved in 
independent video and film. Subscription is included with 
membership in AIVF. Together FIVF and AIVF provide a 
broad range of educational and professional services for 
independents and the general public. Publication of The 
Independent is made possible in part with public funds 
from the New York State Council on the Arts and the 
National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 

The Independent welcomes unsolicited manu- 
scripts. Manuscripts cannot be returned unless a 
stamped, self-addressed envelope is included. No 
responsibility is assumed for loss or damage. 

Letters to The Independent should be addressed to 
the editor. Letters may be edited for length. 

All contents are copyright of the Foundation for 
Independent Video and Film, Inc. Reprints require written 
permission and acknowledgement of the article's 
previous appearance in The Independent. ISSN 
0731-5198 The Independent is indexed in the 
Alternative Press Index. 

S Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. 1992 

AIVF/FIVF STAFF MEMBERS: Martha Gever, executive 
director; Kathryn Bowser, administrative director; Anne 
Douglass, membership director; Mei-Ling Poon, book- 
keeper; Stephanie Richardson, administrative assistant; 
Anissa Rose, programs assistant. 

AIVF/FIVF BOARDS OF DIRECTORS: Eugene 
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Choy, Dee Davis (vice president), Loni Ding (secretary), Lisa 
Frigand,* Adrianne B. Furniss,* Martha Gever (ex officio), 
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (chair), Jim Klein, Regge Life,* Tom 
Luddy,* Lourdes Portillo, Robert Richter (president), Steve 
Savage,* James Schamus, Barton Weiss, Chuck 
Workman,* Debra Zimmerman (treasurer). 

* FIVF Board of Directors only 



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COVER: Arts institutions face 
mounting debt and organizational 
dysfunction due to the hard economic 
realities of the Reagan/Bush era. In 
this issue, Nello McDantei and George 
Thorn survey the damage and offer 
advice. Also, on this first anniversary 
of the Guff War, Gtobalvision 
executive producer Danny Schechter 
takes a critical look at the media's 
coverage of the conflict. Cover and 
illustrations pp. 32 - 37: © Peter 
Huftinger, 1991. 



FEATURES 

28 The Gulf War and the Death of TV News 

by Danny Schechter 

32 The Quiet Crisis: Is Debt Doing in the Arts? 

by Nello McDaniel and George Thorn 

4 LETTERS 

5 MEDIA CLIPS 

What's on the Telly? BBC Premieres Fine Cut Documentary 
Series 

by Jane Williams 

International Documentary Down But Not Out 

by Ellen Levy 

American Center Makes Waves on the Seine 

by Troy Selvaratnam 

Sequels 

10 FIELD REPORTS 

Slouching toward 1992: The Changing European Television 
Market 

byjennine Lanouette 

Northwestern Exposure: Portland and Seattle Find a Place in 
the Sun 

by Mary Jane Skalski 

Can We Talk? Cuban Mediamakers Debate Their Future 

by Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson 

23 IN FOCUS 

What the Manual Didn't Tell You: Film/Tape Image Conversion 

by Rick Feist 

38 IN AND OUT OF PRODUCTION 

by Ellen Levy 

40 FESTIVALS 

by Kathryn Bowser 

46 CLASSIFIEDS 

49 NOTICES 

52 PROGRAM NOTES 

AIVF Advocacy Report 

by Martha Gever 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



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PICTURE PERFECT 

To the editor: 

I read with interest Rick Prelinger's article on film 
archives and stock footage libraries [October 1991]. 
Because of the high cost of archival footage. I have 
located a numberof excellent sources of still photographs, 
which for the money-strapped filmmakercan be a viable, 
cost-effective alternative to archival footage. Regional 
historical societies like the Chicago Historical Society 
and photo collections of city libraries like the Los 
Angeles Public Library are incredibly helpful. But one 
of the most improbable sources of images I found was 
the Lake County Museum in Wauconda. Illinois, which 
houses the Curt Teich Postcard Archives. 

Teich was a German immigrant who set up a postcard 
company in 1898. The company went on to become the 
country's largest printer of postcards until its closing in 
1974. The archives, which contains 380,000 images of 
every conceivable description, was established in 1 982 
and is supervised by curator (Catherine Hamilton-Smith. 
Whether it's images of alligators, roadside diners, or 
cemeteries, the Curt Teich Postcard Archive is likely to 
have it. And because I was doing photo research for a 
nonprofit project (Richard Schmiechen's new film 
Changing Our Minds: The Story of Evelyn Hooker), the 
museum was able to give us the images for a very modest 
license and laboratory fee. The request they were able to 
fulfill? A photo of the Sherman Hotel in Chicago, circa 
1956. 

The Lake County Museum. Curt Teich Postcard 
Collection, Lakewood Forest Preserve, Wauconda, IL 
60084; (708) 526-0024. 

— Flora Moon 
San Pedro, California 



CANNES GAME 

To the editor: 

It was clear, although not clearly stated, from Barbara 
Scharres' article "Pros and Cannes: The Cannes Inter- 
national Film Festival" [November 1991] that being a 
woman director is a very, very big con. 

At Cannes, just like almost everywhere else in this 
wide, wide world, your chances of being considered 
important enough to be seen and heard are correlated to 
sex and race in the following order, from best to worst: 
1 ) white male. 2) non-white male. 3) white female. 4) 
non-white female. 

— Nina Menkes 
Los Angeles, California 



4 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



WHAT'S ON THE TEtLY? 

BBC Premieres Fine Cut Documentary Series 



"Without risks the documentary genre is mori- 
bund." Such is the austere declaration of Andre 
Singer, executive editor of the British Broadcast- 
ing Corporation's (BBC) new series Fine Cut. 
Due to begin broadcast on BBC2 in February 
1992, the series follows in the footsteps of Chan- 
nel Four's True Stories by offering a regular slot 
for feature-length documentaries. Unlike True 
Stories, which is an acquisitions series, Fine Cut 
will commission and fund completion of works- 
in-progress. 




Susan Meisalas (right) in Nicaragua for 
Pictures from a Revolution, which received 
substantial funding from Fine Cut, the BBC's 
first feature-length documentary series. 

Courtesy BBC 



Fine Cut, which is scheduled during primetime 
on Saturday evenings, emphasizes the auteur ap- 
proach to the genre in an effort to move away from 
the more familiar format of the fact-packed TV 
documentary. "There are no narrative constraints 
for the series," asserts Singer, who also imposes 
no limitations on the program's subject matter. 
"[Fine Cut] is a mechanism to help put funding 
behind great directors whose creativity is not 
always respected or demanded by broadcasters, 
but whose passions and work need and should get 
a wider audience." 

"There was a major gap in scheduling for 
feature-length documentaries [on the BBC]," 
Singer explains. "Occasionally a Fred Wiseman 
film was picked up and aired late night, but we 
weren't seen as a broadcaster in that area." The 
project began as a personal crusade, with Singer 



selecting international documentaries "that were 
not going to cost the earth" and pitching them to 
BBC2 controller Alan Yentob one by one. "Once 
we had three or four, I said, 'Surely we should run 
these as a series,'" Singer recalls. After the series 
was extended to include nine films, the controller 
agreed that it should be an annual program. 

Singer, himself a documentary producer, sees 
the series as a reflection of the current state of 
documentary filmmaking internationally. Titles 
in the first season run the gamut from personal and 
polemical statements to chronicles and diary 
pieces. The line-up includes such diverse works 
as Les Blank's Innocents Abroad, a tale of middle 
Americans on a European pyjama tour; Robert 
Gardner's Forests of Bliss, a personal portrait of 
the River Ganges; and Last Images of War, di- 
rected by Stephen Olsson and Scott Andrews, 
which explores the deaths of four journalists cov- 
ering the Afghanistan War. Other featured works 
are Peter Adair's Absolutely Positive; OttoOlejar's 
The Forgotten Men; John Davis' Hobo; Jean 
Pierre Gorin's My Crazy Life; Pictures from a 
Revolution, by Alfred Guzzetti and Richard 
Rogers; Russ Karel's In Black and White; and 
Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness, a docu- 
mentary about Kuwait at the end of the Gulf War 
which is scheduled to air February 29, a year after 
the war's end. 

Despite an avowed emphasis on the interna- 
tional, much of the work comes from the US, an 
inconsistency Singer attributes to a more estab- 
lished tradition in the US of making and distribut- 
ing feature-length documentaries. The glaring 
absence of female directors — only one is included 
in the first series — is harder to explain, but it is an 
imbalance Singer says he intends to redress in the 
second season. 

Because of the way the program developed, 
there was no funding policy for the series up front. 
Singer argued for funding each project individu- 
ally. In the end, the BBC fully funded three of the 
first season's 10 documentaries, including John 
Davis' Hobo and Jean Pierre Gorin's My Crazy 
Life, and provided completion monies for most of 
the others. 

Singer is keen to get involved in projects as 
early as possible. For the second series he intends 
only to commission work and provide completion 
funds for work-in-progress. The BBC will pro- 
vide about £70,000 (approximately $120,000) 
toward each work, but this figure does not repre- 
sent the total funding available through Fine Cut. 
Singer anticipates raising funds from other divi- 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



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sions within the BBC. as he did with the first 
season, to provide up to £150.000 ($250,000) for 
each program. "If there's any lesson I've learned 
from the current changes in broadcasting, it's that 
we're in a very flexible period. We can find ways 
of funding now that we wouldn't have been able 
to before." 

The second season is already being compiled. 
Approaches should be made immediately and 
directly to: Andre Singer, editor. Independents 
Unit. Documentary Features. British Broadcast- 
ing Corporation. Kensington House, Richmond 
Way, London Wl. England. 

JANE WILLIAMS 

Jane Williams is former director of the Association 
of Independent Producers in London and a free- 
lance media consultant. 

INTERNATIONAL 
DOCUMENTARY DOWN BUT 
NOT OUT 

On July 15th the board of directors of the Interna- 
tional Documentary Association (IDA) voted to 
suspend publication of International Documen- 
tary, the Los Angeles-based organization's quar- 
terly journal. The glossy 44-page magazine, which 
had a print run of 4.000. w as the only national film 
publication dedicated exclusively to the docu- 
mentary film form. 

The decision to close the respected journal was 
the result of financial considerations, according to 
Harrison Engle. IDA's publications chair and a 
past president of IDA. "We found that the slick, 
upscale look of the magazine was too expensive 
for us to sustain," Engle explains. But W.B. Peale, 
International Documentary' s former managing 
editor, contends that the magazine was closed as 
much for philosophic as financial reasons. "A lot 
of the board members didn't like the idea of a 
journal that dealt with ideas and theories," says 
Peale. "They were more interested in a glossy 
trade journal that would validate documentary 
within the industry rather than a journal that 
would validate documentary within the realm of 
art and ideas." A typical issue might contain 
features on the making of Paris Is Burning or 
Imagine, interviews with Cuban director Jorge 
Ulla or cinematographer Maryse Alberti. news, 
coverage of technology, international festival re- 
ports, notices, and member updates. 

Board members were admittedly critical of the 
journal. "With the quarterly . ideas and issues were 
often six months old." says board president Jon 
Wilkman. IDA board member Chuck Workman, 
who spearheaded some of the board's criticism, 
felt that "the editorial approach really overlooked 
local documentaries. I felt people like Marlon 
Riggs were being neglected for people in Europe 
we'd never heard of." 

"There's no question that the budget had to be 
raked in." says former editor Denise Bigio. "but I 
got the feeling [Wilkman] didn't want to talk 
about what we could put out on a reduced budget. 




The issue was, 'What standing did the magazine 
have in the organization? How serious were 
fundraising drives for the magazine going to be? 
Was it a question of cutting the magazine back 
because it was not a high-priority while money 
went to other things?" 

With the closing of the quarterly, IDA's month- 
ly calendar has been expanded and its format 
changed to replace the magazine. Nancy Wilkman. 
Jon Wilkman's wife, is editor of the new publica- 
tion. Jon Wilkman sees the new format as a way to 
"be very current. We 're trying to take the strengths 
of both the calendar and the quarterly and make 
one." 

The new publication borrows stylistic ele- 
ments from the journal — such as the bannerhead 
and distinctive red, black, and white color 
scheme — but little in the way of content so far. Its 
premier October edition — which ran 18 pages 
instead of the calendar's typical eight — contained 
only one brief article in addition to the standard 
member and organizational news, classified ads, 
events calendar, and notices. 

Wilkman anticipates increasing the number 
and length of articles, the number of pages, pic- 
tures, and quality of paper stock in the future. 
With the financial pressure easing off — the cur- 
rent publication is produced by a volunteer staff 
out of Wilkman's office for the cost of the paper 
and postage — an effort is underway to rebuild the 
magazine. The magazine hasn't lost any advertis- 
ers, according to Wilkman, and subscriptions are 
up by 25 to 30 each month. 

Not everyone is comfortable with the resolu- 
tion, however, which leaves little distance be- 
tween the board and the publication. "I think it's 
problematic that the president just became the 
editor w ith his wife." observes one board member 
who declined to be identified. "I think it's impor- 
tant that the magazine doesn't become an IDA 
mouthpiece." adds Bigio. 

Others worry less about the new magazine than 
the gap left by the demise of the old. "The maga- 



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zinc wjv a realK significant contribution to the 
field of documentar> >tud>." ^a\-> Professor 
Michael Reno\. chair of Critical Studies at the 
University o\ Southern California's School of 
Cinema-Television. "It was finding the crossover 
figures between the realm of ideas and the world 
of film practice. It's all the more regrettable that 
u> closing should coincide with a rising interest 
within the critical community toward documen- 
tary . There's nothing to take its place." 

ELLEN LEVY 

AMERICAN CENTER MAKES 
WAVES ON THE SEINE 

The ambitious revitalization of the American 
Center in Paris represents the flip side of the 
present export of American culture overseas, pri- 
marily via Hollywood films. Dedicated to the 
promulgation of US art seldom seen by Pari- 
sians — including independent film and video — 
the American Center w ill soon be moving into a 
significantly larger building. Its expanded film 
and video department will play a larger role in 
exposing the city to the freshest offerings from 
this side of the Atlantic. 

The development of the center's film and video 
department has obvious advantages for US inde- 
pendents seeking exposure in Western Europe. 
The program w ill be under the direction of Lucinda 
Furlong, former assistant curator of film and video 
at the Whitnev Museum of American Art. The 



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newly constructed center will house film and 
sound recording spaces, an audio/v isual center, an 
archival area, a film theater w ith 1 6mm and 35mm 
capabilities, and a lecture hall. Residency spaces 
and educational programs are among other fea- 
tures slated for the center's new facilities. Venues 
for collaborative works and multi-media installa- 
tions will also be available. 

"There are a lot of issues dominant in American 
works that are virtually nonexistent in France." 
sa\ s Furlong. "I'd like to introduce a lot of work 
that isn't being seen." 

In the wake of the extreme nationalism coming 
into vogue in France. Furlong's programming 
ideas promise more than an alternate take on 
American art. They will likely provoke discussion 
on such sensitive topics as multiculturalism — an 
issue she hopes to address in her programs — in a 
newly unified Europe. "I'd also like to pursue 
thematically organized and focused exhibitions, 
such as verite versus direct cinema, that possibly 
draw on cultural differences." adds Furlong. 

Despite the blessing bestowed on it by Presi- 
dent Bush, the American Center will rely solely 
on private donations and ambitious fundraising 
drives to cover its budget. The center's central 
building, to be constructed in Bercy Park on the 
Seine and designed by renow ned California archi- 
tect Frank Gehry. will alone cost S40-million. It is 
scheduled to open in the fall of 1993. 

TROYSELVARATNAM 



SEQUELS 

In January President Bush will have the opportu- 
nity to name nine nominees to the National Coun- 
cil on the Humanities, the 26-member council 
which oversees the National Endowment for the 
Humanities. If this round of appointments fol- 
low s patterns of the recent past, the deck will be 
stacked with right-wing ideologues rather than 
scholars, despite the council's mandate to provide 
"comprehensive representation of the views of 
scholars. ..in the humanities." Bush's last nomi- 
nee. Dr. Carol Iannone. failed to attain the post 
after the Modern Uanguage Association. Phi Beta 
Kappa, the College Art Association, PEN. and 
other scholarly groups mounted a campaign against 
her. Iannone. a non-tenured professor in English 
at New York University, had few published works 
after 20 years of teaching, and was vice president 
of the National Association of Scholars, a new 
organization dedicated to combatting "political 
correctness" in academia. With appointees serv- 
ing six-yearterms, they have lasting consequences 
on the NEH and its S200-million grant pool. 



Acting on the adage that you gotta have art. Bravo 
and the National Assembly of Local Arts Agen- 
cies (NALAA) have produced a 60-second PSA 
encouraging viewers to contact their local arts 
agencies and get involved. The PSA is available 
through NALAA. (202) 371-2830. 



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FIELD REPORTS 



SLOUCHING TOWARD 1992 

The Changing European Television Market 




The commercialization of 
European broadcasting 
may mean harder times 
ahead for US producers. 
"I thought it would be 
much easier to sell this 
program," says the 
German distributor of 
Pola Rapaporfs Broken 
Meat. 



Courtesy filmmaker 



JENNINE LANOUETTE 



Over the past two to three years, much has been 
made of the explosion of new television channels 
in Europe and the potential sales opportunities 
they afford US independent mediamakers. In the 
past, the educational and cultural nature of 
European government-owned channels offered 
US independents a more sympathetic arena in 
which to sell their work than did most television 
outlets in the United States or other parts of the 
world. Consequently, American independents 
have a particular stake in understanding the exact 
nature of the changes occurring across the Atlantic 
and how these will affect prospects for foreign TV 
sales. 

The rapid expansion of the European television 
market was initiated in the mid-eighties, when the 
television industry began pressuring governments 
to loosen their monopolistic hold on the airwaves. 
This started a trend among European govern- 
ments toward the deregulation and privatization 
of broadcasting. Concurrently, the advance in 
new cable and satellite technologies on European 
ground created the opportunity for a rapid in- 



crease in television viewership and potential mar- 
kets and added to the pressure to privatize. The 
new, more commercial character of the television 
landscape was then furthered by the gradual low- 
ering of economic boundaries between the 12 
nations of the European Community in prepara- 
tion for the elimination of all internal trade barri- 
ers in 1992. 

A couple of years ago, in anticipation of 1992, 
there was much discussion within the European 
television industry about the cultural impact of a 
unified television market. Among the more con- 
tentious issues were the viability of government- 
imposed programming quotas to keep under con- 
trol the rapid infiltration of Hollywood product 
and the challenge of promoting a pan-European 
television industry without succumbing to the 
pressure to produce only in English. 

However, the preoccupying fear among Euro- 
pean producers — that commercial competition 
would lead to the dominance of lowest-common- 
denominator Hollywood programming — has not 
been completely realized. While it is certainly 
true that commercial US product holds the lion's 
share of foreign imports, it has also been found 
that local audiences most prefer programming 
that is indigenous and in their own language. In 



some cases, this only means that instead of airing 
the American Wheel of Fortune, for instance, an 
Italian broadcaster will buy the rights to the con- 
cept and produce its own version, with Italian 
hosts and contestants. So from the point of view of 
US independents, the problem remains — Euro- 
pean television is becoming significantly more 
commercial. 

The expanded marketplace presents a difficult 
bind for public (government-owned) television 
stations in Europe, including those with which US 
independents are accustomed to interacting — ARD 
and ZDF in Germany, the British Broadcasting 
Corporation (BBC) and Channel Four in Britain, 
and NOS-TV in the Netherlands. The government 
funding they receive usually carries a mandate to 
foster educational and cultural programming. At 
the same time, the new commercial climate re- 
quires that they also be able to compete with the 
private channels for audience share. This has lead 
to much soul-searching about programming phi- 
losophy within public television. 

"The idea that 'What we think is important is 
what we should give the audience' is no longer 
viable," says Henk Suer, head of Features and 
Documentaries at NOS-TV. "Now we have to 
think about what the audience wants and give 



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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



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them that. Forme, public broadcasting is founded 
on the idea that you have to be the communicator 
of thoughts and opinions of the whole nation. 
What the commercial stations can't do is to think 
of minorities. So this is the obligation of the public 
stations. But we haven't found the solution for 
combining this with earning money." 

Fortunately, Suer has not yet had to change his 
buying patterns of US independent films and 
videos. "I like the level of probing in American 
documentaries and their structure for storytelling. 
I still buy about five hours of programs from the 
United States each year." 

In Germany, public stations ARD and ZDF are 
experiencing much more direct competition from 
the proliferation of new German private chan- 
nels— RTL-Plus, SAT 1, PRO 7, and Tele 5. 
"Right now, state-owned television has to fight to 
keep its audience," says Peter Steinhart, head of 
Feature Film Acquisition at ARD. "So my depart- 
ment has to take special care to get enough main- 
stream Hollywood movies to show in primetime. 
But when you are showing something like 90 
percent American movies in primetime, you have 
to think about where to put the movies from the 
rest of the world. And usually you put them in the 
time-slots around midnight, which are the same 
time-slots you would give to the independents 
from America." 

But Steinhart does not assume that the current 
situation will last. "I think.it will be just three or 
four more years that the space for ambitious, off- 
beat movies in the television networks will remain 
so scarce. Now all you see on the commercial 
channels are old German soft-porn films or mov- 
ies of pop singers from the sixties that nobody 
really cares about, except that it is a name from 
childhood. It's camp. The worse the German 
movie is, the more fun it is for the audience. But 
as soon as these are no longer a novelty, the 
curiosity for new productions will become higher 
again." 

In the meantime, the more commercial trend is 
having a devastating effect on independent dis- 
tributors, who historically have relied on a film's 
television sale to support its theatrical release. 
Now they are finding they need a theatrical release 
in order to generate interest from television sta- 
tions. "An unknown American film with an un- 
known director will get a very, very low price 
from German television," says Arno Reckers, of 
the Berlin-based distributor Mega Film. "The 
only way to bring this price higher or get a better 
contract is to have cinema distribution, because 
then all the newspapers are writing about it and the 
name of the movie and the director become known. 
Then you are in a position to do business with the 
television stations." 

For documentaries, the situation appears even 
more difficult. Ex Picturis is a Berlin-based dis- 
tributor which recently expanded from documen- 
taries into features for the more lucrative televi- 
sion sales. "We are a small company," says Ex 
Picturis president Peter Rommel. "We don't have 
the money in our pockets. So before we pick up a 



12 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



Ralph Arlyck's Current 

Events sold to the BBC's 

Self-Exposure, a series 

partly motivated by a 

need to compete with 

Channel Four's 

independent specialty 

programming. 

Courtesy filmmaker 



CURRENTEVENJS 






1 -^erhlih— ' 



film, we first have to see if 
there is television interest 
in it, and then work with it 
on both sides. We have a 
documentary from the 
States called Broken Meat, 
by Pola Rapaport, that I 
was able to sell to ZDF/3 
Sat. But I haven't sold it to 
foreign, and I haven't sold 
it to England. I thought it 
would be much easier to 
sell this program." 

ZDF/3 Sat is a satellite 
cable channel that broad- 
casts low-budget art and 
minority-oriented programming as a complement 
to the more commercial direction that the terres- 
trial ZDF has taken. For example, when ZDF 
recently programmed a series of Canadian films, 
including Atom Egoyan's Family Viewing and 
Speaking Parts, ZDF/3 Sat ran a similar program 
featuring films like Guy Madden's more chal- 
lenging Archangel. The downside is that a film 
sold to 3 Sat will get significantly less money than 
it would from ZDF. 

A similar relationship exists between the first 
German channel, ARD, and the regional "third 
channels" that are part of the ARD network. The 
third channels are able to take much greater com- 
mercial risks because they broadcast to smaller 
segments of the population. They also have had 
some success showing foreign-language programs, 
whereas ARD and ZDF stick to dubbed films in 
view of the overall German population's intoler- 
ance for subtitling. But, as with ZDF/3 Sat, the 
third channels pay far less for the programs they 
acquire. 

French television, being culture-centric and 
highly protective of its language, has never of- 
fered much fertile ground for US independents, 
with the possible exception of the pay-cable chan- 
nel Canal Plus. Recently, however, the French 
public channel La Sept, known for its huge archive 
of cultural documentaries amassed in only a few 
years, has been reaching beyond its borders to 
interact with foreign producers and television 
channels. Having exhausted the start-up funds 
that were provided by the French government, La 
Sept formed an alliance with ARD and ZDF last 
April to promote a new Franco-German cultural 
channel called Arte. As a result, everything they 
now produce is by nature a coproduction. In view 
of this, they have recently begun exploring 




coproduction opportunities with producers in the 
United States. 

"La Sept doesn't have money problems," says 
Jane Weiner, their US representative, "So they 
aren ' t looking for coproduct ions to raise the money . 
They are looking for a coproduction of ideas. And 
American independent documentaries tend to be 
the kind of documentaries that are of interest to La 
Sept." 

Weiner has also recently been employed by the 
BBC to scout for documentaries to fill a new 
series called Self-Exposure, which focuses on 
independent documentaries from around the world 
that have a personal point of view. The series was 
motivated at least in part by a need to compete 
with Channel Four for more independent spe- 
cialty programming. But Weiner gives an ex- 
ample of the kind of identity confusion that many 
public stations exhibit when expanding their pro- 
gramming philosophy to meet a competitive mar- 
ketplace. "When I was asked to do this job, the 
BBC executives said, 'We want you to find pro- 
grams for us before Channel Four gets them.' 
Then when I showed them Ralph Arlyck's Cur- 
rent Events, they said, 'It's a great little film, but 
wouldn't it be better for Channel Four?' And I 
threw up my hands. But they took it in the end.' 

So old habits die hard as the individual Euro- 
pean countries lurch toward a unified and com- 
petitive, yet indigenous and diversified television 
market. According to Steinhart, "The difficulty 
will always be to make movies with a national 
identity that will still have, despite that, an inter- 
national appeal. I don't see that very much will 
change with 1992." 

Jennine Lanouette is a freelance writer living in 
New York City. 



The California Institute of the Arts 
invites applications for the position of 



DEAN or the 

SCHOOL OF FILM/VIDEO 



CalArts is seeking an individual with 
a distinguished career as a film- 
maker, video artist, scholar or 
curator. Experience should be 
commensurate with a senior level 
appointment The candidate should 
have the administrative skills and 
background suitable for directing a 
multifaceted curriculum. 

CalArts is a privately endowed and 
fully accredited arts college of 
approximately 1 000 students, 
unique in offering both BFA and 
MFA degrees in five disciplines: Art, 
Dance, Film/Video, Music, and 
Theatre. There is also an active 
interdisciplinary program. The 
Institute is known for its faculty of 
outstanding artists and scholars and 
for its innovative graduates. 

Three distinct courses of study are 
offered: Experimental Animation, 
Live Action and Character Anima- 
tion. The School of Film/Video 
(with a full and part-time faculty of 
33 and an enrollment of nearly 300) 
enjoys a reputation for producing 
imaginative experimental work 
while at the same time training 
students in traditional filmmaking 
skills. 

Application Deadline: Open until 
filled. Starting Date: Fall, 1 992. 
Salary and benefits competitive. 
Multiple year contract negotiable. 
Affirmative Action, Equal Opportu- 
nity Employer. Send resume, names 
and telephone numbers of refer- 
ences, samples of work to Film/ 
Video Search Committee, Office of 
the Provost, CalArts, 24700 
McBean Parkway, Valencia, CA 
91355. 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 13 



FIELD REPORTS 



NORTHWESTERN EXPOSURE 

Portland and Seattle Find a Place in the Sun 



MARY JANE SKALSKI 



In New York and Los Angeles, the sight of a film 
crew on the streets is met with a mixture of 
boredom and annoyance at the intrusion and in- 
convenience created, but in the Pacific North- 
west, there's the sense that it's all in the family. 
Here the media community really is a community, 
where people know one another and frequently 
help w ith each other's projects. If someone goes 
walking down Yamhill Street in Portland, spots a 



where you can see work, so people are bound to 
run into one another. Oregonians are friendly 
people, so we're bound to start talking." 

Many professional relationships have begun 
just this way. Animator Chel White recalls mov- 
ing to Portland seven years ago and having other 
filmmakers come up to him after his screening at 
the now defunct Media Project. From that mo- 
ment, he was part of Portland's palpable anima- 




From Chel White's xerox animation 
Choreography for Copy Machine 
(Photocopy Cha Cha), with music by 
Citizen M. 

Courtesy filmmaker 



production crew at work, and offers to lend a 
hand, chances are they'll be taken up on it. 

"Portland has a kind of magic." says John 
Campbell, codirector of photography for My Own 
Private Idaho, by Portland resident Gus Van Sant. 
Campbell is currently at work on his own film. 
Tony the Catman. a portrait of a former jockey- 
turned-maintainence man at a state hospital that is 
overrun with cats. "There is a lot of freedom to be 
as creative as you'd like, because the film and 
video community isn't jaded," Campbell observes. 
"There is a real spirit and community that's flour- 
ished, partly because there are only a few venues 



tion community. White was also drawn into Van 
Sant's production circles, as have been many 
other area mediamakers. working on the visual 
effects crew of My Own Private Idaho. 

Similarly Kelley Baker, who acted as supervis- 
ing sound editor on Idaho, is a producer in his own 
right. Baker is making a documentary about Kay 
Boyle. America's last living expatriate from 1 920s 
Paris. In 1987 he completed Criminal Justice. 
a look at Portland's criminal justice system. And 
he continues to work on his autobiographical 
trilogy — That Really Obscure Object of Desire 
(1988); Enough with the Salmon, a short about 



14 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



Baker's family vacations in the Northwest; and 
Love the One You're With, a look at Baker's 
"disastrous high school dating career." 

In addition to Van Sant's feature films, Port- 
land has a number of places that act as production 
hubs for local mediamakers. Such commercial 
facilities as Portland's up-and-coming animation 
studio Jim Blashfield Productions and the 
claymation studio of Will Vinton draw in the 
area's independents, who collaborate on a project, 
then fan out to their own, very diverse work. 

White made his latest film, Choreography for 
Copy Machine or Photocopy Cha Cha, while 
working at Blashfield Productions. Part of his job 
for Blashfield was using the copy machine to 
reproduce animation backgrounds. As White notes, 
"Anyone who has worked with a copy machine 
late into the night knows that sooner or later the 
urge to put your hand or face down onto the glass 
becomes unbearable." White turned the moment 
into a humorous and surreal film collage of faces, 
assorted appendages, fruit, and the flotsum of 
emptied pockets — key chains, coins — that appear 
trapped behind this modern-day looking glass. 

White has plenty of company. The Northwest 
is filled with animators and cartoonists, from 
Lynda Barry and Matt Groening to Joanna Priestly 
and Will Vinton. In Portland, animators have a 
reasonable number of places to meet and show 
work. Filmmaker Rose Bond credits the Anima- 
tion Collective, formed by Portland animators in 
the 1970s, together with the Media Project with 
coalescing the animation community. Although 
both are now defunct, a third organization — the 
local chapter of ASIFA, the international anima- 
tion society — still carries on. ASIFA meetings 
usually draw 20 to 35 animators, who gather to 
discuss topics of interest and screen work. In 
addition, Tecknifilm Labs opens its doors to inde- 
pendents for screenings of their work, as does 
Will Vinton Studios, which also offers selected 
local projects what some consider a Faustian 
financial arrangement — money for production in 
exchange for the completed work's copyright. 
This type of support, coupled with low-cost classes 
and equipment at the Northwest Film and Video 
Center, have provided a strong base for animators. 

Recently these Portland animators joined forces 
for a five-minute film, called It's About Peace, 
which utilizes the talents of Tom Arndt, Amy 
Blumenstein, Rose Bond, Scott Campbell, Webster 
Colcord, and Andy Collen. The idea originated 
with Collen, who wanted to make a film that 
would bring his peers together and pitched the 
idea to an enthusiastic ASIFA crowd. Various 
peace-related topics were allotted 30-second seg- 
ments, which the artists divied up and animated in 
their own style. The resulting film incorporates 
everything from traditional eel animation to paper 
doll cutouts. Collen kept the animators on sched- 
ule — and financed the film with money out of his 
own pocket and comp time at Tecknifilm Labs. 
Now Collen is assembling animators for another 
collaborative project based on the book 50 Simple 



1992 Bucks Co 
Independent Film Tour 



Available for screenings: 
January 1, 1992- June 30, 1992 

1992 PROGRAM 



i Honey and Salt 

Edgar A. Barens (12/89) (14 mins.) 
New York. NY 

i Choreography for Copy Machine 
(Photocopy Cha Cha) 

Chel White (1991) (3V2 mins.) 
Portland, OR 
i Thursday 

Leighton Pierce (1991) (4'/2 mins.) 
Iowa City, IA 

I Julie: Old Time Tales 
of the Blue Ridge 

Les Blank. Maureen Gosling, 
Cece Conway (1991) (11 mins.) 
El Cerrito, CA 
i Maxwell's Demon 

James Duesmg (1991) (8 mins.) 
Cincinnati, OH 

i Death by Unnatural Causes 

Karen Bellone & Lisa Rinzler 
(12/90) (20 mins) New York, NY 



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■ Chicken Mobile 

Michael Dwass (1991) (3 mins.) 
New York, NY 

■ Selective Memory 

Art Zipperer (1991) (9 mins.) 
Eureka, CA 

■ The Visible Compendium 
Larry Jordan (1991) (17 mins.) 
Petaluma, CA 

■ Be My Baby 

Paul Shannon (1990) (15 mins.) 
Philadelphia, PA 

■ After the Fall 

Joanna Priestley (1991) (6 mins.) 
Portland, OR 

For information, preview tape, 
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Ways to Save the Earth, by the Earthworks Group. 

Portland seems to be emerging as the North- 
west region's cultural center and meeting place. 
This past year the city hosted annual conferences 
of the National Alliance for Media Arts Centers, 
the National Federation of Local Cable Produc- 
ers, and the Creative Conference, a gathering of 
over 900 film and television professionals. 

However, financing independent media remains 
tough in Portland and throughout the state. The 
Oregon Arts Commission distributes only S 1 0,000 
annually for independent production. Sometimes 
this is awarded to one artist, other times it is 
broken up into smaller grants. Historically the 
economy in Oregon has been tied to the lumber 
industry, which has been particularly depressed in 
recent years. As the state attempts to diversify its 
revenues, it has begun to allocate more funds to 
attract commercial film and video production by 
publishing a slick directory and maintaining an 
organized and efficient film office to work with 
visiting crews. Local producers are keeping their 
fingers crossed. The more outside productions 
come into the region and provide freelance work, 
the more Oregon's mediamakers are able to pay 
the bills for their own projects. 

By many accounts, Seattle's film and video 
community isn't as closely knit as that in Portland. 
One reason, according to Robin Reidy, executive 
director of Seattle's 91 1 Media Arts Center, is that 
independents in Seattle haven't had the benefit of 
diverse media arts groups like Northwest Film 
and Video, ASIFA, the Media Project, and the 
Animation Collective. 

However, the state of Washington has a per- 
cent-for-art program, which mandates that a por- 
tion of the budget for public buildings be reserved 
to commission works of art. Usually static work is 
commissioned after the structure is well under- 



way, but recently building planners in Washing- 
ton have begun to look at video as a form of art that 
can transform and energize public space, not just 
decorate it. Video artists have not only been asked 
to create installations, but they've also been in- 
vited to work with architects and designers on the 
overall plan. 

Video artist Frank Video (not just a startling 
coincidence; Video had his name legally changed) 
used his visual sensibility to help architects design 
traffic patterns and lighting, as well as his own 
video installation, for a new Student Activities 
Center at Seattle Central College. He wanted to 
weave the history of the school into the structure 
of the space — raising questions and citing quota- 
tions on monitors and walls in one area of the 
building and responding to them in another. Video 
is also collaborating with two artists on a new 
wing for the Harborview Medical Center. Once 
the team completes its research, they will lay out 
the medical center's artistic foundation, identify- 
ing themes and blocking out space for other artists 
to elaborate on later. Video's interactive video 
wall will serve as the cornerstone. 

Washington state has seen an increase in com- 
mercial studio activity in the past few years. Both 
Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure were shot 
there, considerably raising the region's profile 
within the industry and among the general public. 
This attention is seen by locals as part of the 
"Californication" of the region. Californians have 
been steadily migrating to the quiet, peaceful, 
natural settings of the Pacific Northwest in an 
attempt to leave their crowded, suburban, strip- 
mall existence behind. Unfortunately many Paci- 
fic Northwesterners feel that the Californians are 
just bringing it all with them, so there are mixed 
feelings about the increased attention. Many film- 
and videomakers interviewed for this article were 



16 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



Portland is home to director Gus Van Sant 
(behind camera), whose My Own Private 
Idaho and other film projects often draw on 
the local community of below-the-line talent. 

Courtesy Fine Line Features 



quick to remark, "Don't make it sound too great 
here, we don't want more people to move in." 

Producers in the area do cite drawbacks. These 
include the relatively paltry level of support from 
state arts councils and feeling out-of-touch with 
the politics of funding and distribution, especially 
in the public television arena, whose decision- 
making nexus is 2,500 miles away. But in light of 
the fact that arts budgets are being slashed almost 
everywhere and given the commitment of local 
media arts centers like Northwest Film/Video and 
9 1 1 to keeping them informed, Oregon and Wash- 
ington artists are more than happy to stay where 
they are. 

Mary Jane Skalski is a freelance writer temporarily 
based in Oregon. 



AIVF REGIONAL 
CORRESPONDENTS 

AIVF has a network of regional correspon- 
dents who can provide membership infor- 
mation, hold meetings, and aid recruitment 
in areas of the country outside New York 
City. ArVF members are urged to contact 
them about AIVF-related needs and prob- 
lems, your activities, and other relevant in- 
formation and news: 

Howard Aaron, Northwest Film and Video Ctr., 
1219 S.W. Park Ave., Portland, OR 97205; (503) 
221-1156 

Cheryl Chisolm, 2844 Engle Road, NW, Atlanta, 

GA 30318; (404) 792-2167 

Dee Davis, Appalshop, 306 Whitesburg, KY 
41858; (606) 633-0108 

Loni Ding, 2335 Jones St., San Francisco, CA 
94133; (415) 474-5132; 673-6428 

Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, 1752 17th St., NW, Wash- 
ington, DC 20009; (202) 232-6912 

Deanna Morse, School of Communication, Grand 
Valley State Univ., Allendale, MI 49401; (616) 
895-3101 

Lourdes Portillo, 981 Esmeralda St., San Fran- 
cisco, CA 941 10; (415) 824-5850 

Robin Reidy, 91 1 Media Arts Center, 1 17 Vale 
Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109; (206) 682-6552 

Bart Weiss, 161 1 Rio Vista Dr., Dallas, TX75208; 
(214) 948-7300 



RESIDENCY PROGRAM 

in WYOMING at the foot of the BIG HORN MOUNTAINS 

Applications are welcome from all disciplines 

(visual, literary arts, video, film, composers, scholars). 

Residencies are 2 to 8 weeks. There are two sessions. 

Deadlines are October 1 for January - May 

and March 1 for August - December sessions. 

Room, board and studio space are free of charge. 

For application & brochure call or write: 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 

U C R O S S foundation 

^2836 U.S. Hwy 14-16 East 
Clearmont, Wyoming 82835 
307/737-2291 




THE 

19 9 2 
CHARLOTTE 
FILM AND VIDEO 
FESTIVAL 



ENTRY DEADLINE: March 9, 1992 

FESTIVAL: April 28 - May 5 

AWARDS: Cash awards totaling $3,000 for accepted works. 

ENTRY FORMS: Mint Museum of Art 

c/o Robert West 

2730 Randolph Road 

Charlotte, North Carolina 28207 
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 17 



FIELD REPORTS 



CAN WE TALK' 

Cuban Mediamakers Size Up Their Future 



KELLY ANDERSON AND TAMI GOLD 



Juan Carlos and housemate doing dishes 
at an AIDS sanatorium in David Beaton's 
How to Live with AIDS in Cuba. 

Courtesy Filmmaker 



Cuba is a complex and overdetermined concept in 
the North American popular imagination. While 
the public has been presented with repetitive im- 
ages of a totalitarian/communist state, the politi- 
cal Left has often idealized Cuba. The current 
moment in history, however, is filled with contra- 
dictory and evolving media images of Cuba — a 
byproduct of the reeling political and economic 
changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 
Tabloid covers fantasize Fidel Castro's impend- 




ing demise. Analyses of Cuba's future litter the 
op-ed pages of the New York Times. During the 
recent Pan American games broadcast live from 
Cuba, people saw Fidel doing "the wave" in a 
Havana sports stadium. 

This is a complex moment for Cubans, who are 
facing the worst economic crisis in 32 years now 
that the USSR, Cuba's primary trading partner, 
has sharply curtailed aid and imports as a result of 
its own economic woes. This past May we spent 
10 days in Cuba as part of an exchange organized 
by the Center for Cuban Studies and sponsored by 
the CUNY-Caribbean Exchange Program at the 



City University of New York. We arrived during 
what the Cuban government termed a "special 
period." a phase of severe economic restriction 
and reorganization necessitated by the abrupt re- 
duction of Soviet trade, as well as the US embargo 
which has been on-going since 1962. 

We spoke with numerous film- and videomakers 
about the problems and changes underway. Many 
of their questions are important for North Ameri- 
cans as well as we face our own economic and 
political crises: What are the dynamics of freedom 
of expression and censorship during an economic 
crisis? How are political and cultural identities 
formulated and reflected in cultural production? 
How do generational differences affect political 
identities and strategies for change? Can Cuban 
socialism continue to move forward during this 
historical moment of the New World Order? 

"The most interesting thing going on in Cuba is 
debate." summarized filmmaker Rebecca Chavez. 
"We are beginning to ask new questions." Many 
artists expressed a commitment to Cuban social- 
ism, but felt that the dialectical nature of their 
political process necessitates open criticism and 
difficult discussion. Many of the post-revolution- 
ary binarisms that characterized Cuban national- 
ism — revolutionary versus imperialist, Cuban 
versus gusano — are beginning to dissolve. This 
open debate is happening in Cuba at official 
levels, and it is exploding throughout society, 
often pushing the boundaries of the "official line." 
The following reflects the nature of the dialog that 
was occuring last spring and gives a sense of this 
important and complex period in Cuba's history. 

Rebecca Chavez is one of Cuba's veteran film- 
makers. She began working in the news depart- 
ment of ICAIC. the Cuban Film Institute, more 
than 15 years ago. and has produced numerous 
documentaries addressing divorce, pregnancy, 
birth control, and other issues relevant to women. 
As Chavez explained, "This has been said many 
times, but it's such an elemental truth that I must 
say it again. I wouldn't be a filmmaker if it wasn't 
for the revolution. My projects are funded and 
paid for by the state, and the only thing I'm asked 
in return is to be talented. Cuba would not be able 
to have a film industry without socialism. Film is 
a luxury, and this country cannot afford that 
luxury — yet it does." 

Underscoring Chavez's point. 30-year veteran 
filmmaker Santiago Alvarez noted, "The first 
cultural law Fidel signed created ICAIC." Both 
Chavez and Alvarez have had prolific careers, a 
fact they credit to the state's support of the film 



18 THE INDEPENDENT 



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20 THE INDEPENDENT 



industry. Alvarez, who is often called the father of 
experimental documentary in Cuba, said, "I've 
done more than 1 20 documentaries and 600 news- 
reels. If you took the film stock I've used, it would 
go around the equator 10 times." 

Chavez illustrated a similar point with a story 
about Ana Maria Garcia, a Cuban filmmaker 
living in Puerto Rico. Chavez worked on Garcfa's 
film La Operacion when it was in postproduction 
in Cuba in 1 98 1 . "I had never made a film before," 
Chavez recalled. But since that time, "Ana Maria 
has not been able to make her second film. And 
I've already made 15." 

Another ICAIC filmmaker is Sergio Giral. 
whose early work broke new ground by reclaim- 
ing the historic role of Afro-Cubans. His films 
include El Otro Francisco and Maria Antonia. 
"The most important thing the revolution has 
given me," said Giral. "is an identity. We, as a 
country, have been colonized for centuries, and so 
we have looked outward. Before the revolution, 
people focused on the American way of life. Now 
a large percentage of Cubans here — and in Mi- 
ami — have a strong sense of where they belong. 
You participate in a historical moment in what- 
ever way — for socialism, or against it — but you 
participate. The saddest thing is not feeling part of 
a historical process." 

Cubans have different relationships to this his- 
torical process and Cuba's revolution. Younger 
artists who did not experience the early 1960s see 
themselves in conflict with the institutions founded 
by the first post-revolution generation. They are 
challenging the existence of an official culture 
that defines the parameters of "acceptable" ex- 
pression. 

Many belong to a new organization for young 
mediamakers called Hermanos Safz. named for 
two young brothers killed during the revolution, 
which hosts an annual film and video festival. 
Although independent of ICAIC and UNEAC 
(the Union of Writers and Artists), it is an official 
organization recognized and funded by the gov- 
ernment. As Hermanos Safz member and video 
artist Ricardo Acosta described it, "We are trying 
to find a space for people born after 1 959 to do 
artistic work. We're creating a body of work you 
don't see at ICAIC. We have differences with the 
previous generation and want to recover a reflec- 
tive humanism which has been lost in Cuban 
cinema. Cubans have a need to communicate — 
not on an ideal level, but on the level of being 
human. 

"If I wanted to work in ICAIC, it would be 15 
years before I could produce my first film," Acosta 
continued. "There is an explosion of young pro- 
ducers who want to create work, without the 
channels or space to do it. This creates the first 
generational conflict." 

The struggle for alternative channels of pro- 
duction and exhibition is complicated by the cur- 
rent economic crisis. When we visited ICAIC's 
national office, the halls were without lights be- 
cause the parts necessary to support the fluores- 

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



Poster for Che, entre 

Leyendas. by Rebecca 

Chavez, who insists, "Cuba 

would not be able to have 

a film industry without 

socialism." 

Courtesy Center for Cuban Studies 



cent bulbs were unobtain- 
able. Production was nearly 
at a standstill for this inter- 
nationally recognized and 
ordinarily prolific film in- 
dustry. 

Acosta also emphasized, 
"It's important for Herman- 
os Safz to remain indepen- 
dent, because it's a way of 
allowing other perspec- 
tives." Among the "other 
perspectives" now emerg- 
ing in Havana are those of 
gays and lesbians. It's in 
this area that the US em- 
bargo, which is as much 
ideological as economic, 
has impeded North Ameri- 
cans' ability to recognize change in Cuba. What 
shapes public opinion instead are films like Nestor 
Almendros' Improper Conduct, which documents 
the incarceration of gay men in reeducation camps 
during the 1960s, and US press condemnations of 
Cuba's AIDS sanatoria. 

In fact, things have changed significantly since 
the enforcement of repressive policies towards 
gay men and lesbians in the 1960s and 1970s. In 
April, for instance, an award-winning short story 
by Senel Paz about a party militant's relationship 
with a gay man had just been published. We 
visited several gay couples living together and 
heard about the greater openness and acceptance 
many felt was imminent. Several lesbian and gay 
cultural exhibitions were being planned, includ- 
ing one organized by Acosta for Hermanos Safz 
called "For The First Time." "My intention was to 
do a gay exhibition without foreign artists, be- 
cause it's important for us to represent ourselves 
as gay Cubans," said Acosta. "The people who 
most resist this idea are gays, because we've over- 
learned the discourse of forgiveness. The show 
isn't saying, 'Forgive us.' It says, 'We exist. We 
have our own reality.'" 

While Cuban filmmakers expressed many dif- 
ferent opinions on the place of gay politics and 
gay-themed media in Cuba, one question was 
recurrent: How to advocate for the rights of spe- 
cific groups, such as gays and lesbians, in a 
context where the dominant identity is that of the 
nation, and where the expression of difference is 
often viewed as divisive? 





This tension was played out repeatedly in dis- 
cussions, as when Sergio Giral talked with his 
partner Armando Dorrego, who wrote the screen- 
play for Maria Antonia. "If we projected an image 
of two men kissing," said Giral, "people would 
reject it, get angry, laugh. We aren't prepared." 
Dorrego interjected, "When Sergio says 'We're 
not prepared,' those of us who are younger object. 
We have suffered a lot from this kind of paternal- 
ism." Dorrego continued, "If the process moves 
forward, it will be beneficial for the people. Now 
we have Senel's novel, a festival of gay cinema 
coming up, and we are doing a film with a gay 
character. Before we couldn't do this — not be- 
cause of repression, but because of culture." 

Many artists disagreed over the importance of 
gay media. Ivan Arocha, for instance, an ICAIC 
film editor, sculptor, and performance artist who 
also produces video with the independent multi- 
media group Z, said, "I often ask myself whether 
the gay theme is most important within our con- 
text. I think there are more important themes — 
like leadership, the economy, and national issues 
like aggression. I don 't like the word 'aggression' 
because it sounds like a cliched anti-imperialist 
poster, but in addition to being a cliche, it's also a 
reality." 

When Arocha presented a rough-cut of Como 
Vivir con el SI DA en Cuba (How to Live with AIDS 
in Cuba), which he edited, at the Lesbian and Gay 
Community Center in New York in 1989, anti- 
communist Cubans living in New York City at- 
tacked him physically and verbally, accusing him 



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of being a Castro agent. What ' s more, said Arocha. 
"a lot of gay North Americans and Cuban Ameri- 
cans wouldn't let me say a word. They see Cuba 
as a country without gays, and therefore wouldn't 
let me speak. They are gay. and I'm gay. but I can't 
identify with these people. I have to identify with 
another ideology — a political one. a humanitarian 
one — and defend my position as gay within that." 

While women have not had to prove the legiti- 
macy of their existence, they. too. have struggled 
for their rights w ithin the revolution. As Chavez 
noted. "It's not enough to have five laws saying 
you're equal. That's a piece of paper you can 
throw in the garbage. You have to go out every day 
and demonstrate this right." Her own experience 
speaks to this. She recalled. "Women at ICAIC 
would only advance to a certain level, such as 
editing, producing, or administrative work. But 
the artistic work, such as directing, was hard for a 
woman to get. I've had to prove that I'm intelli- 
gent, talented, and capable of directing a film. We 
women have to fight every day. because when you 
reach one point, there's always another. There- 
fore my themes continue to change. Now I feel 
free to do more artistic work, without pressure 
to make a speech about the role of women." 

During our stay in Cuba, the United States was 
in heated debate over the National Endowment 
for the Arts and public funding for the arts, cen- 
sorship, and freedom of expression. Although 
these North American concepts cannot be applied 
uncritically to Cuba, we found many Cubans 
struggling with similar issues. While we were 
surprised at the extent to which censorship and 
other controversial issues could be discussed at 
official meetings, the debate was always pushed 
further when it took place in people's homes. This 
open dialogue has enabled a critique of the exist- 



Sergio Gird's films, such as El Otro Francisco, 
reclaim the historic role of Afro-Cubans. 

Courtesy Center for Cuban Studies 

ence of "official" discourse and the censorship 
that inevitably ensues. 

"A society cannot develop with two dis- 
courses — one the official ideal and the other our 
day-to-day reality." Acosta insisted. "In order to 
know who we are as a people, we need one level 
of dialogue." He continued, "[Hermanos Sai'z's] 
principle is that we are going to show our work in 
public and defend our positions in front of the 
community." 

Despite differences of opinion about the 
country's future, everyone we spoke with felt an 
investment in Cuba as an independent and social- 
ist nation. When asked. "What do you want for 
Cuba?." Arocha responded: "That people could 
see our reality without being dominated by the 
US. We see seven or eight Hollywood films a 
week. People see a mechanic living in a mansion 
with two cars. They think that when they go to the 
US. they're going to Hollywood. It's natural that 
people should want to go. ..The sad thing is. they 
can't come back." 

"It's a hard moment economically." Dorrego 
emphasized. "But I don't think the answer is to 
abandon everything and leave — and not see any 
results. In a few years, we will win the gay 
struggle, and there will be so many more. The 
revolutionary process is young." 

Kelly Anderson, a producer, writer, and educator, 
is coproducing a video exchange about gay identity 
and politics in Cuba and the US. Tami Gold is a 
producer and professor at Hunter College, and is 
currently working on a documentary exploring 
the multiple constructions of gender. 



22 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



WHAT THE MANUAL DIDN 

Film/Tape Image Conversion 



T TELL YOU 



RICK FEIST 



This article is eleventh in a series written by staff 
members of the Standby Program, a nonprofit 
video access and education program dedicated to 
providing artists and independent producers with 
sophisticated video services they can afford. 
Standby's technicians are artists themselves and 
therefore offer vital understanding and sympa- 
thetic collaboration. The information presented 
here and in future articles should help you make 
appropriate technical decisions to suit your aes- 
thetic and budgetary needs. The previous chap- 
ters of this editing guide reviewed video recording 
formats, time code, off-line editing, switchers, 
digital video effects, titling methods, video paint- 
ing systems, audio for video, and audio process- 
ing. 



INTERLACED-SCANNING PATTERN 



Line 21 , field 1 - 

Line 22, field 1 - — ii J 



Line 23, field 1 --«* 



Line 283, field 1 




- Second half 

Line 283 
I- Line 284, field 2 

Line 285, field 2 






Line 264 



h 



Vertical retrace, 
field 1 to field 2 
20 lines 

--Line 525, field 2 



Video is an outlet for images derived from other 
media. Converting images may require more than 
a video camera. In computer graphics, an image 
consists of a matrix of pixels, each assigned digi- 
tal values for the amount of red, green, and blue 
(R-G-B) present. An encoder is necessary to pro- 
duce an analog video signal from the digital data 
["What the Manual Didn't Tell You: Digital 
Video," May and June 1 990] The transfer of film 
to video is an industry in its own right. And video 
standards themselves are converted among such 
acronyms as PAL, NTSC, and SECAM. 



INTERLACE 

A series of rapidly changing still pictures creates 
the illusion of motion. Because of the persistence 
of vision, each image lingers in the brain for a 
fraction of a second. To overcome flicker, the 
images must change faster than the human capa- 
bility to discern them separately. The number of 
times that a moving image is updated is called the 
refresh rate. Flicker-free motion is obtainable 
with a refresh rate of 50 to 70 images per second, 
depending on lighting conditions and the sharp- 
ness of detail. 

Film and the various video standards record a 
different number of frames per second. In Europe, 
film is shot at 25 frames per second, the same rate 
as the PAL and SECAM video standards in use 
there. In the United States, the National Televi- 
sion Standards Committee (NTSC) stipulates 30 
frames per second, with 525 raster lines per frame. 
Film, shot at 24 frames per second, must be 
converted to 30. 

These frame rates are inadequate to overcome 
the threshhold for persistence of vision. There- 
fore, each film frame is actually held in the projec- 
tor gate and displayed two or three times through 
the blades of a shutter. This adds up to 48 or 72 
images per second. A video frame is divided into 
two sequential fields, providing a refresh rate of 
60 images from the nominal 30 video frames per 
second (or 50 from 25 in PAL and SECAM). To 
divide a frame into two fields, all of the odd- 
numbered raster lines (1, 3, 5 ...525) are scanned 
as the first field, and then the even-numbered lines 
are scanned to produce the second field. The two 
fields are interlaced. Although progressive scan (a 
full-frame scan at a refresh rate of 50 to 60 full 
images per second) would provide greater image 
definition, the band width required would be 
prohibitively costly for both components and trans- 
mission. 

Interlace causes visual artifacts, or aliasing 
effects. If motion in the image is faster than the 
frame rate, the motion is distorted. Paradigmatic 
are the spokes of a revolving bicycle wheel that 
seem to spin backwards. Since the lines of field 
two are scanned after the completion of field one, 
any motion within the image will be later by one- 
sixtieth of a second in field two. Viewing the two 
fields combined as a frame produces a blur as the 
image rapidly alternates between the two differ- 
ent positions. To prevent this blur, a single field 
must often be used for a freeze frame if there is 
motion in the image. 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



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FILM-TO-TAPE TRANSFER 

The texture of film is ubiquitouson television. Yet 
video is clearly incapable of the fine-grained 
resolution of 35mm film. The contrast of film — 
the range of brightness values it can record — 
yields subtle colorations that are literally squeezed 
to fit within the limited bandwidth of video. A 
significant amount of detail is lost. Still, the de- 
mand for this type of conversion continues un- 
abated for films new and old. 

Film is the production medium for most major 
television productions, as well as the commercials 
during the breaks. Since the image ends up on 
video, wouldn't a video camera reproduce the 
original scene just as well? No. The grail of the 
"film look" has led to the development of telecine 
machines that provide more sophisticated control 
over picture quality than the best video cameras. 
A nostalgia for film grain instilled in the hearts of 
filmmakers will follow them to the grave. 

A telecine, formerly called a film chain, copies 
film onto video. By swapping guides and rollers, 
the same machine accommodates both 1 6mm and 
35mm film formats. Super 8 film transfer is a 
specialty, though creative solutions have emerged, 
such as the excellent transfers done by Bob Brodsky 
and Toni Treadway in Boston. 

3-2 PULLDOWN 

To transfer a film running at 24 frames per second 
(fps) to video (requiring 30 fps) involves the so- 
called 3-2 pulldown. The first film frame is trans- 
ferred onto two video fields. Every second film 
frame is transferred onto three video fields. This 
produces 12 extra fields per second (or six video 
frames) which make up the difference to 30 fps. 

The digital framestore provides the means to 
make conversions in frame rates ["What the 
Manual Didn't Tell You: Digital Video," May 
1990]. Incoming pictures are sampled and stored 
in memory. Entire fields are interpolated or elided 
for output at another rate. Most telecines use 
progressive scanning, employing a framestore to 
create interlaced video for television standards. 

There are noticeable shortcomings in any frame 
rate conversion. Motion artifacts are evident dur- 
ing lateral (cross screen) movements, which ap- 
pear jagged or halting because every sixth frame 
is repeated or missing. In some systems, a film 
edit between two different scenes or angles be- 
comes a one-frame mix, with the first field and 
first scene woven by interlace into the second field 
and scene. Visually this looks like a blend of the 
two images. 

The increasingly sophisticated digital filtering 
of recent telecine devices can mask many of these 
problems. The sophisticated URSA system virtu- 
ally eliminates aliasing. The frame-store in the 
telecine is also involved in variable speed trans- 
fers. The Bosch FDL system can make transfers at 
any speed between two and 600 fps. 

An alternative is to shoot film at 30 fps. No 
frame conversion is required, and single video 



24 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



! 


STANDARD 

Film 


FRAME 
RATE 

24 


LINE 
RATE 


WHERE FOUND 
USA 


5 


Film 


25 




Europe 




NTSC 


30 


525 


USA, Canada, South America, Japan, South Korea 


% 


PAL 


25 


625 


Western Europe, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Israel, 










Central and Southern Africa, the Middle East 


4 » 

i 


SECAM 


25 


625 


France, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, North Africa, 
the Middle East 



frames, derived from a single, static film frame, 
are jitter free. This is critical for laserdiscs utiliz- 
ing still frames. 

Various technologies have come and gone 
through the development of film-to-tape trans- 
fers. The first continuous motion telecines ap- 
peared in the 1970s. These made it no longer 
necessary to physically stop the film in the gate to 
scan a frame, as the frame was converted as it 
moved past the video scanner. The flying spot 
scanner became the byword of film-to-tape con- 
version. A tiny beam of intense light is projected 
through the film onto a photocell sensitive to the 
variations of brightness. The spot progresses along 
each raster line of the television image. A cath- 
ode-ray tube (CRT) generates the flying spot, 
though laser beam systems have been developed. 
Rank Cintel is famous for its flying spot scanners. 

The most common system used in newer NTSC 
film chains is the charge-coupled device, or CCD 
scanner. A CCD scanner utilizes a solid state 
device (a chip) which has a bar of 1 ,024 photosen- 
sitive elements that take a line-by-line reading of 
the film. CCD scanners are more durable than 
their CRT-based flying spot counterparts. If greater 
vertical image stability is required for paintbox 
retouching or exact matting in compositing video 
effects, an electronic pin-registered (EPR) trans- 
fer is recommended to prevent slight up-and- 
down oscillations of the image. Such a transfer is 
time-consuming and can only be fully successful 
when a pin-registered film camera has been used 
in production. 

The zoom, pan, and tilt capabilities of telecine 



machines vary. If the telecine utilizes a zoom lens, 
the film-to-tape transfer is the best time to perform 
such maneuvers, when the enlargement quality is 
far superior to that of a digital effects device. 
Often it's advisable that such material be trans- 
ferred twice — once at normal size and once with 
the effect or enlargement — for coverage during 
editing. 

COLOR CORRECTION 

The most sophisticated video color correction 
capabilities are available in the film-to-tape trans- 
fer — you won't find these machines again in an 
edit suite. The bright, medium, and dark balance 
of each of the video primaries (red-green-blue) 
can be separately filtered and adjusted. A Sun- 
burst or Da Vinci corrector provide for the selec- 
tion of a single color or color area, such as a red 
dress, to be isolated and separately amplified 
(saturated) or suppressed (desaturated) without 
affecting the rest of the image. An Ultimatte can 
also be employed to generate a black and white hi- 
con keying signal from filmed blue-screen chroma 
key backgrounds. 

A one-light film-to-tape transfer uses a single 
setting to transfer an entire roll of film. Such a 
transfer can be unsupervised and is not too expen- 
sive. Alas, most all film-to-tape transfers are su- 
pervised, and the brightness and color of each 
camera angle is adjusted to the satisfaction of the 
producer and often the cinematographer. For this 
reason the film-to-tape process is often called 
color correction. 



3-2 PULLDOWN 



Film 

24fps 



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Field 



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The operator of the film chain will often use a 
digital disk-recorder to store still frames of impor- 
tant scenes for later comparison of light and color 
balance. Earlier scenes may be retransferred to 
bettermatch latercamera angles. All inall, progress 
may be slow. 

FILM SOUND 

Transferring dual system sound with picture is 
even more cumbersome. The sync-smart system 
utilizes a Nagra reading center-track SMPTE time 
code. The quarter-inch sound slaves to the film as 
it is transferred to video, but each take requires 
syncing-up, as with film dailies. A special elec- 
tronic slate that displays the Nagra SMPTE time- 
code number at the moment the sticks impact is 
filmed by the camera. This expedites the align- 
ment of the sound. Reel changes must be made 
regularly, and the Nagra takes a fixed amount of 
time to cue to a given point on the reel. Very few 
film soundpersons understand time code. Non- 
ascending time code ["What the Manual Didn't 
Tell You: Time Code and Computer Editing," 
October 1 989] can cause the tape to spin off. Any 
inaccuracies in the script or sound notes can stop 
a film-to-tape session dead in its tracks. It is 
embarrassingly expensive to search for a missing 
sound take under these circumstances. Transfers 
can also be made utilizing 16mm or 35mm mag 
film. Holes are punched (start marks) at the begin- 
ning of each film reel and sound reel to align the 
tracks. 

AND BACK AGAIN: 
CONFORMING FILM 
NEGATIVE 

If the film negative is to be conformed to the final 
video edit, the best method in use is the key-code 
system. Bar codes are exposed along the edge of 
the film to encode the time of day in SMPTE time- 
code format. Special time-code generators can be 
slaved to these numbers to record them on the 
videotape transfer. The film can be conformed 
directly from the edit decision list (EDL). The 
alternative method is to transfer entire reels of 
film with a hole-punch start mark aligned with the 
beginning SMPTE code. Later, frame offsets can 
be calulated from the EDL. 

Though reconforming film negative for a film 
print results in superior technical quality, the 
practice is rarely done. The cost of titles and other 
film opticals, quickly done in video, are prohibi- 
tive in film. 

Alternatively, video can be transferred to film. 
Everyone has seen kinescopes — films shot di- 
rectly off of a television monitor. When done on 
a professional system, the shutter speed of the film 
camera is controlled synchronously to the video 
field rate. Still, the low video resolution and 
contrast are obvious. More sophisticated elec- 
tronic beam transfer systems utilize a laser to scan 
the film frame from the video signal. Such a 



26 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



system is expensive ($100 per minute without a 
print), but usually produces acceptable results 
with most video material. 

STANDARDS CONVERSION 

NTSC video was developed in the United States in 
the 1950s, operating at 30 fps with 525 raster 
lines. A second signal, the color modulated onto a 
subcarrier, is added to the black and white signal. 
After the standard was implemented, it became 
apparent that the phase of the color signal often 
drifted, resulting in changes of color. 

In Europe, color standards were developed 
from the experience of NTSC. France and the 
Soviet Union broadcast in SECAM (Sequential 
Color with Memory). Two color subcarrier sig- 
nals are alternately transmitted on every other 
raster line, providing the means for comparing 
them and correcting color drifts. In PAL (Phase 
Alternate Line), the phase of a single color 
subcarrier is inverted on every other line of video, 
which not only provides for correction but pro- 
duces less noise than SECAM. Both the PAL and 
SECAM standards utilize 25 fps rates with 625 
raster lines. In countries utilizing the SECAM 
standard, production is usually done in PAL and 
converted to SECAM only for broadcast, as PAL 
circuitry is simpler and more common. 

Standards conversion is accomplished by us- 
ing specially designed framestores that sample 
the video in one format and read it out in another. 
To convert the 625 lines of the PAL standard to the 
525 lines of NTSC, every fifth line is elided. 
Inversely, every fifth line is repeated to boost 525 
NTSC lines to the 625 lines of PAL or SECAM. 
Likewise, entire fields are repeated or deleted to 
convert frame counts, as in the 3-2 pulldown of the 
telecine. 

Aliasing is the result, and, once again, digital 
filtering is involved. Interpolation is an averaging 
process to reduce motion problems and discon- 
tinuities when lines or entire fields are repeated or 
deleted. By comparing a line to the adjacent lines 
above and below, an average is derived to modify 
each of the lines accordingly. Each video field is 
compared to the previous field. The sophistication 
of the software used for interpolation is often the 
determining factor in the price of a standards 
converter. 

The price of framestores, however, has fallen 
dramatically over the last decade. Affordable tri- 
standard VHS decks can play and even convert 
tapes of any standard. Though this is not a classy 
conversion, it is a very functional translation. The 
framestore has finally made the multi-standard 
VCR possible. 

Today's video standards are set to be the 
lowest common denominator for all forms of 
imaging. With the help of framestores, almost any 
conversion can be programmed. Digital image 
quality could be better than it is now (eight to 10 
bits), but only for a price. And video has become 
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CALL FOR ENTRIES 

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April 23-30, 1992 




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fiction, animation, experimental and more. 

Entry fee: $35 Deadline: March 2, 1 992 

For an entry form, USA Film Festival 
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 27 



THE GULF WAR 



N 



H 



DEATH OF TV NEWS 



DANNY SCHECHTER 



In the weeks leading lpto the first anniversary ofthe gulf war this 
January, there were several panel discussions probing the news media's 
coverage ofthe conflict. The New York Bar Association witnessed a senior 
editor of Newsweek turn towards Pete Williams, the super-slick Pentagon 
flack, and call for civil disobedience among journalists if press pools are 
imposed during the next war. Editor Jonathan Alter asked his colleagues to 
risk prison by defying press restrictions, amplifying on a critique that led 17 
leading news organizations to write to 
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney months 
after the war to complain that "the re- 
strictions imposed during the Iraq con- 
flict made it virtually impossible for 
reporters and photographers to tell the 
full story." Amazing, isn't it? These are 
the same people who were on the air 
around the clock with what they re- 
ported at the time was the full story. 

If the mainstream media is now ad- 
mitting some of its own failures, inde- 
pendent journalists who challenged the 
coverage and, in many cases, the war 
itself, can merely chuckle on the side- 
lines. The only pools they were allowed 
in were at the hotels, far from the fight- 
ing — if they could afford to get there. 

Independent, nonmainstream report- 
ing was virtually frozen out from the 
outset. There was no independent tele- 
vision news gathering operation on the 
scene. Of American independents, only 

Jon Alpert, with coproducer Maryanne DeLeo made it to Baghdad and, as 
is now well known, his stories for NBC News were suppressed and he was 
discharged. Most critics believe that Alpert. a long-time stringer for the 
network, was fired because his behind-the-lines images challenged the 
dominant pro-Pentagon new s frame. 

Every network had its generals in residence, none its dissidents. In the 
war's aftermath, there were some polite postmortems focusing on the 
problems reporters had with pool coverage. Some journalists were given air 
time to challenge the Pentagon's news management approach. Night line's 
Forrest Sawyer w as among the most outspoken and articulate. But few if any 




When CNN journalist Peter Arnett became a political lightning 
rod, his adversaries included CNN's own general-in-residence. 

Courtesy CNN 



challenged, or could comfortably challenge, their own network's complic- 
ity in agreeing to the rules. As Michael Massing observes in the Columbia 
Journalism Review, "Access was not really the issue. Yes, the pools, the 
escorts, the clearance procedures were all terribly burdensome, but greater 
openness would not necessarily have produced better coverage." For him, 
what we lacked were not freer reporters in the field but more digging into 
the real reasons for the war, fewer "Scud studs," as NBC's Arthur Kent was 
called, and more I. F. Stones to burrow in the bowels of official Washington 
to get at the story behind the story. 

While we wait for a PBS superseries on the Gulf War some years hence — 
once the issue leaves the realm of controversy and enters the high ground of 

"history" — we can be grateful for a 
handful of dissenting documentaries, 
most notably Deep Dish TV's Gulf 
War TV Project, Frontline's look at 
post-war Iraq, Bill Moyers' After the 
War series, and some stories on The 
90' s. But most of them focused on 
the policy, not the press. 

In my view, the media's perfor- 
mance has to be analyzed as an ex- 
tension of government policy, be- 
cause in this war much of the media 
was carefully and deliberately or- 
chestrated as a policy marketing 
tool — often with its own full com- 
plicity. In effect, the media was de- 
ployed as an extension of a well- 
planned government dominated in- 
formation system. Newsday even 
quoted a reporter as saying, "the line 
between me and a government con- 
tractor is pretty thin." And that sys- 
tem — as a matter of policy and prac- 
tice — kept independents and critics at arms length. 

The frustrating reality is: even if independents could get access to the 
frontlines. it's doubtful they could get access to the airwaves. 

After being rejected by NBC. Alpert's unique footage was turned down 
by ABC and CBS as well. (CNN had Peter Amett there, so they didn't need 
it.) The only stations willing to show Alpert's reports were WNET-New 
York and MTV. When public television station WNET aired the footage, 
the material was packaged with a discussion between Alpert and host Roger 
Rosenblatt (a regular contributor to MacNeil-Lehrer ), whose hostility and 
skepticism about the reports were barely veiled. 



28 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



MTV News provided the only national broadcast for this footage. The 
network invited our company Globalvision to produce a series of news 
reports on the war for their Week in Rock magazine — including a story 
showing snatches of Alpert's work. Though not a place most Americans 
tuned for their war coverage, it at least allowed different angles on the 
conflict to be seen nationally. But when the war ended so quickly, so did our 
reports on MTV. 



W. 



' HY WAS OUR TELEVISION SYSTEM SO UNIFORM IN ITS COVERAGE OF THE WAR ? HOW 

did the Pentagon manage the news and news media so well? And why is it 
that the media became such a battleground in this conflict? 

The answer to the first question is to be found in the architecture of 
network news, including CNN. Corporate cultures exist within news 
organizations the way they do in other organizations, with unwritten rules 
steering you towards being one of the team. At ABC News, a list is 
circulated daily detailing where everyone in the organization can be 
reached. It's labelled The Troops. It should be no surprise that dissent and 
democracy are no more encouraged inside the news army than inside 
"Today's Army." In both places, there are clear limits placed on your being 
"all that you can be." In this context, no eyebrows were raised when ABC, 
flush with victory in the network ratings war-within-the-war, posed its 
anchor/stars in a military-like line-up for a stylish publicity portrait, which 
was splashed all over bus shelters in New York City. The copy tag read 
simply, "Air Supremacy." How's that for borrowing your imagery from the 
people you are reporting on? 

Network news was not always as homogeneous as it is today. For years, 
the big three networks worked hard to project distinctive identities. Nowa- 
days these differences are blurred. It's not surprising when Dan Rather's 
producer becomes Ted Koppel's producer, and Ted's former producer 
becomes George Bush's producer. (It's true. Nightline's executive producer 
Dorrance Smith left ABC News for a news job at the White House.) Their 
graphics may feature different colors and designs, but their stories, ap- 
proach, and "feel" are pretty much the same. Even CNN, which came to life 
in the eighties, has essentially copied existing formats, putting pictures to 
all-news radio. It's ability to go live has been its signature, but the content 
of CNN is the content of mainstream TV news — only there's more of it. 

Why this sameness? According to David Altheide and Robert Snow, 
authors of the new book Media Worlds in a Post Journalism Era, the TV 
media has its own imperatives — what they call "media logic," which turns 
the news world ultimately into a world of its own, with its own language, 
grammar, ideology, and interests. What is and isn't covered often has as 
much to do with how a program is seeking to position itself and the 
perceived or real demographics of its audience as with the inherent impor- 
tance of any one story. 

Media mechanics — the compression of all information into prefabri- 
cated formats — has already brought us the death of journalism as it has 
traditionally been practiced. "The journalism enterprise," Altheide and 
Snow contend, "especially TV news, essentially is reporting on itself; it 
addresses events that are cast in its own formats and frames of relevance, 
rather than attempting to understand the events in their own terms, and then 
trying to communicate the complexities and ambiguities of 'real world 
conditions.'" 




The Pentagon's chief in-house briefer drew laughs on Johnny 
Carson when describing how they met before press 
conferences to plan who to call and who to ignore. The 
"troublemakers" were put in the back, out of camera range. 

Courtesy CNN 



H< 



lOW DID THE PENTAGON INSINUATE ITSELF INTO THIS KIND OF DECISION- 

making process and manage the news so well? The Pentagon has long 
considered the media an enemy. The top brass has been smarting for years 
over its defeat in Vietnam, with many blaming the media, not the military. 
Since then they've been studying media management techniques at the War 
Colleges, borrowing ideas from the British experience in the Falklands and 
then trying them out, first in Granada and then in Panama. A Defense 
Information School in Ohio trains platoons of so-called Public Affairs 
Officers or media minders. 

Media techniques soon permeated the Pentagon itself. The Gulf War was 
mounted like a film or TV production, with an eye for careful casting and 
visuals that would put themselves in the best light. While slick briefers like 
Pete Williams held down the front in Washington, character-actor generals 
like Stormin' Norman became heroes playing against type in the field. 

A decentralized, competitive media was no match for a centralized, well- 
organized Pentagon with a game plan finely tuned over the decades. 
Command and control of the propaganda operation was coordinated by a 
high-level Deputies Committee, made up of the seconds-in-command from 
all the national security and military agencies. Every policy pronouncement 
was calculated and coordinated. Incidentally, that committee was headed by 
our new CIA director, then deputy director Robert Gates. He was the 
enforcer of a list of "Do's and Don'ts" that governed what officials could 
discuss. When Air Force General Dugan committed a "don't" by disclosing 
that there were plans to bomb Baghdad months before the onslaught actually 
began (the disclosure was, of course, denied), he was fired. Dugan ended up 
working for CBS News. 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 29 



The Pentagon's chief in-house briefer. General Thomas Kelley, would 
later joke with Johnny Carson about how easy it was to control the press 
conferences. He drew laughs when describing how the briefers met before- 
hand to strategize and plan who to call and who to ignore. The "troublemak- 
ers'' were put in the back, out of camera range. When Kelley retired after the 
war, he was promptly hired by NBC News. ABC's military consultant 
Anthony Cordesman previously worked at a conservative think tank and for 
Arizona Senator McCain, an ultra-right wing Vietnam POW. He displayed 
his objectivity by penning an op-ed piece for the New York Times that ran 
the day the war ended. It pleaded for no cuts in the defense budget. Now 
Cordesman is back in McCain's office — jumping back from the center of 
media power into politics. 

The networks, which had been playing into the Pentagon's hands all 
along, soon found themselves junior partners in the military game plan. 
Their executives met with the Defense Secretary to map out the pool system. 
Once in place, there was little they could do but try to work within it. 

With journalism that could easily be mistaken for jingoism, the networks 
pumped up the war psychosis with sustained coverage of the dangers facing 
the troops. Some local news anchors tied yellow ribbons to their studio sets. 
A climate was created that insured critical coverage of the war would 
become a commercial and political risk. 

The few journalists who decided it was not their job to win a popularity 
contest nevertheless cooled their aggressive questioning at Pentagon press 
briefings as the winds of war boosterism started blowing through their news 
organizations. They began to feel isolated and out of step, especially after 
Saturday Night Lire made journalists, not the generals, the target of their 
spoofs. According to the New York Times, once the Pentagon felt it had won 
legitimacy from such an unlikely source, it would not revise its media 




A fish monger tells independent video journalists Jon Alpert and Maryanne 
DeLeo how his market was destroyed by allied bombs. Such close-up, 
behind-rhe-lines reportage was notable for its absence on television news. 

Courtesy videomakers 



restrictions. The distinctions between entertainment programming and 
news further slipped away. 

Soon we were seeing all of those music videos of bombs bursting in air 
and planes roaring into desert sunsets. But there were also reports filtering 
back of net work correspondents actually urging the Military Police to arrest 
reporters operating outside the pool. We heard about a hit list for renegade 
American reporters who would be busted if captured. And then there was the 
story of CBS's Bob Simon who was arrested — but by the other side. 

I HE GULF WAR WAS ULTIMATELY WON NOT BY THE UNITED STATES BUT BY 

CNN. For CNN, the war was a godsend for several reasons. Its strength is 
crisis reporting and live coverage. Ted Turner's news teams spent a small 
fortune but recouped their expenses by jacking up the cost of their ads and 
getting the cable industry to come up with a supplementary per viewer 
assessment. CNN marketed its service to cable systems worldwide and even 
cornered the video cassette market. When the war was on, their ratings were 
hot. When it ended, they were not. 

This is not to take away from CNN's many exclusives and strong on-the- 
scene reporting. But there did come a time when some of their news bulletins 
became repetitive and virtually devoid of news. (A caller to a New York 
radio station quipped, "I feel like my consciousness has become a target of 
saturation bombing by CNN.") You'll also recall how CNN's Peter Amett 
became a target of right-wing criticism for his Baghdad broadcasts despite 
the network's constant efforts to point out that Arnett's stories were often 
subject to Iraqi censorship. To its credit, CNN backed Arnett. Friends at 
CNN tell me the network was very nervous about the well-orchestrated anti- 
Arnett campaign and were careful to insure that all his reporting was 
surrounded by disclaimers and quickly followed by interviews with experts 
who tended to treat Arnett as an advocate, not a journalist. 

In a new book called How CNN Fought the War, CNN's general-in- 
residence, retired Major General Perry Smith, recounts his battle to keep the 
Pentagon position the dominant one inside CNN's Atlanta newsroom, a 
place insiders often call "the bunker." Smith explains how he waged his own 
war to "balance" Arnett's "misleading" coverage. "Throughout this entire 
period of time," he writes, "I kept trying to figure out Peter Arnett. Was he 
biased in favor of the Iraqi government? Was he an anti-war advocate.... was 
he fundamentally anti-American?" 

This TV general finally decided that Arnett was not an ideological bad 
guy after all. His diagnosis: "The more I watched the Arnett coverage, the 
more I talked to people who knew him well, the more I came to believe that 
he was a 'feeler.' In other words, Arnett is someone who empathizes with 
the people around him." Feeling and empathy are apparently considered 
a high crime and misdemeanor in some circles. Arnett's accuracy was 
evidently less important than the fact that his message and "feelings" were 
out of line with the official line. 

Also out of line, apparently, was tough objective reporting about civilian 
casualties. The authoritative human rights monitoring organization. Middle 
East Watch, issued a 402-page report in November revealing how both sides 
committed serious violations of the laws of war. "Selective presentation of 
this information," the group charges, prevented the American people from 
seeing through a "carefully constructed image of a near flawless allied 
campaign." 

Middle East Watch applies legal standards to the allied performance that 



30 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 




most US media applied only to Iraq. The report finds many violations in the 
means and methods of attack and the selection of targets. The study is called 
Needless Deaths, and in an even-handed manner, it condemns Saddam 
Hussein's violations, too. 

What's significant about the study is that it contradicts many of the 
images that American television pounded home hour after hour. If you 
watched TV news, you'd think most of the US bombing employed so-called 
"smart bombs." Not true. According to the study, these accounted for 
merely 8.8 percent of the munitions used. The "dumb weapons" hit their 
targets only 25 percent of the time. How much Pentagon footage did we see 
of these misses? 

Conversely, Patriot-Scud encounters made for great pictures, but had 
little military meaning. Remember all the talk they inspired about "proving" 
the validity of Star Wars-type defense systems? After the war, an MIT 
researcher testified before Congress that the Patriots actually caused more 
damage than the Scuds they shot down. In November, the Israeli govern- 
ment confirmed this assessment. 

Middle East Watch also discloses that the Pentagon admits it knew that 
the Ameriva air raid shelter in Baghdad, where as many as 300 people were 
incinerated, had been used as a civilian shelter during the Iran-Iraq war. 
Some British journalists reported that the shelter was bombed to kill the 
families of Iraqi leadership thought to be using it. You '11 recall that after this 
atrocity occurred, most of the US media reported Pentagon claims that the 
facility was used for military purposes. None, of course, noted Article I of 
a protocol signed by the United States which provides that even if a civil 
defense structure is used for military defense, it cannot be attacked before 
a warning is issued. 

Needless Deaths also documents the intentional targeting of food, as well 
as agricultural and water treatment facilities. The report faults the allies "for 
their apparently deliberate silence regarding the extent of civilian casualties 
in Iraq attributable to allied bombing." 

In early November, the Pentagon's Pete Williams astonished an audience 
in New York by asserting that the US government has officially put the 
number of civilian casualties at 557. He explained that the Geneva Conven- 
tions require the United States only to report on the number of civilians that 
our own forces bury. 

So on the war's first anniversary, this issue is still far from settled. My 
point in these summaries is not to set the record straight, but only to suggest 
that it never was. During the Gulf War, most of the media got along by 
playing along. Unknown even to most reporters, there was an economic 
dimension to the story that needs more thorough probing. 

It turns out that January 1991 was not the best time for the net- 
works to confront a popular president and his popular war. Just as the smart 



From photographer Barbara Alper's book 
project The Gulf Channel, on the French 
media's coverage of the Gulf War, as 
retransmitted on US cable TV. 

Courtesy artist 



bombs started flying, a lot of smart network money was engaged in a 
massive lobbying effort to change the FCC's Financial Syndication rules. 

These rules limit the networks' right to own and market their own 
programming. Imposed at a time when the public airwaves were thought fit 
for regulation in the public interest, the Financial Syndication rules were 
meant to limit the networks' ability to monopolize the marketplace. This 
meant that program suppliers, not the networks, would forever make the big 
money when The Cosby Show and others went into syndication. Needless 
to say, this arrangement pleased the producers, not the networks. As 
television became more competitive thanks to cable and VCRs, network 
profits began to plunge. Hence the rationale for the networks' high-stakes 
"reform the rules" campaign. 

The Federal Communications Commission, which has the power to 
revise those rules, was dominated at the time by a group of Reagan-Bush 
appointees. One of the commissioners, James Quello, a former station 
manager of Detroit's ABC affiliate, was the networks' point man on this 
issue. Just before the war started, Quello made a very public display of 
criticizing journalists' aggressive questioning at Pentagon press briefings, 
labeling it unpatriotic in a speech to the Oklahoma Broadcasters Associa- 
tion. What kind of signal do you think that sent network higher-ups? What 
network would want to antagonize the same Administration from which it 
was seeking a major financial dispensation? 

By the war's end, when I spoke to Quello, he had moderated his critique, 
saying that he now felt the networks did a good job. Incidentally, he voted 
for changing the FCC rule — but the networks did not get all they sought; 
they won only a limited but lucrative compromise giving them the right to 
sell their shows overseas. 

I don't have the full story yet of just how this FCC sideshow affected the 
war coverage in the main ring — and perhaps never will, since the principals 
are unlikely to discuss it. Globalvision is trying to produce a documentary 
that explores the subject but so far has been unable to raise the money. And 
even if we do, who will run it? 

The only positive in all of this is that the sentiment within journalism 
against the pools and the media managers is growing. The media itself is 
coming under greater scrutiny as well. Organizations like Fairness and 
Accuracy in Media (FAIR) staged large, noisy, and popular protests outside 
the networks during the war. To my knowledge, this is the first time that 
media coverage of a war attracted as much alarm as the war itself. We know 
that the media did not explain the origins of the conflict clearly, the 
economic interests involved, or what was likely to happen next. No wonder 
that even Time Magazine, one of the war's biggest cheerleaders, carried a 
cover months later asking, "Was It Worth It? 

We need more regular coverage of media coverage. And we need it on 
television. Where are the Siskel and Eberts of TV news? Where are the 
independents willing to create critical media programs and lobby to get 
them on the air? Where is PBS? We need more eyes on the media storm. 
Let's not wait for the next war to take up the challenge of monitoring, 
reporting on, and even competing with network news. 

Danny Schechter is executive producer of Globalvision, which produced 
the news series South Africa Now and is currently developing a human 
rights series. Rights and Wrongs. He has worked as a producer for PBS, 
CNN, and, for many years, ABC News. 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 31 



The Quiet Crisis 

IS DEBT DOING IN THE ARTS? 



NELLO MCDANIEL AND GEORGE THORN 



This article is second in a series on the long-term systemic changes in the 
media arts field. Our deepest challenges have less to do with specific 
funders, distributors, and equipment choices than with the larger shifts in 
economics, political climate, and technological options open to indepen- 
dents. As the following essay describes, the highly publicized attacks on arts 
funding and free expression by conservative political forces in the last two 
years is only half the story: over the past decade, the entire economy of the 
arts has been quietly reorganized. This report, issued by the Foundation for 
the Extension and Development of the American Professional Theater 
(FEDAPTi. sketches the patterns of this quiet crisis and offers suggestions 
for how organizations can respond. 



W, 



HATEYER THE BALANCE OF THIS DECADE HOLDS. OUR ASSUMPTIONS 
about the role of the arts in the complex and contradictory scheme of 
American life have begun to unravel. And our assumptions about the 
strength, endurance, and resilience of our arts institutions have been 
challenged by the hard economic realities of the Reagan/Bush era. We are 
caught in a crossfire of circumstance brought about by design and neglect. 
While we will ultimately view this period in the light of many economic, 
social, environmental, and political events, the situation for the arts has 
been, and still is. defined by two crises. These crises arise from separate but 
related — and. at times, conspiratorial — sources. 

The Crisis of Note 

The crisis that has most captured our attention has been the attack on the 
National Endow ment for the Arts led by Jesse Helms and Donald Wildmon. 
It began with seemingly isolated cases of criticism of certain NEA- 
supported arts projects by certain conservative members of Congress. 
Today, it has become a major debate over government funding of the arts 
and over freedom of expression. The NEA has been attacked before, but this 
is a very different situation. When we look at a few of the attendant 
circumstances, it seems strange that we were so surprised. 

Ronald Reagan, in his first major budget address in 1 98 1 . gave notice that 
government support for the arts was targeted for dismantling. Although 
unable to obliterate the NEA. his administration successfully reduced 
funding while undercutting the political power base the agency had enjoyed 
under previous administrations. 

Also, at that time. Reagan laid out the blueprint for shifting government 
priorities. Kevin Phillips, in his book The Politics of the Rich and Poor: 
Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath, points out, 
"Since the American Revolution, the distribution of American wealth has 
depended significantly on who controlled the federal government, for what 
policies, and on behalf of which constituencies. ..the Reagan era reversed 



what late twentieth-century Americans had become used to. The liberal 
style that prevailed from 1932 to 1968 had left a legacy of angry conserva- 
tives indignant over two generations of downward income redistribution. A 
re-orientation in the opposite direction was all but inevitable in the 1980s." 

While the Reagan budget policies set the stage, other events have fueled 
the assault on the arts. For example, the collapse of communism in Eastern 
Europe has refocused the attention of the radical right to new issues. Since 
Gorbachev's reforms have been underway in the Soviet Union, extraordi- 
nary resources, both human and financial, in the US have been turned to the 
forces fighting free choice and abortion rights. 

The fact that Senator Jesse Helms was coming up for reelection was 
another sign that some type of attack on the NEA was imminent. Since 
Helms relied heavily on campaign support from outside North Carolina, he 
had to create an issue that would generate national press coverage and 
provide him a pretext on which to solicit national conservative dollars. 
Helms outspent his opponent. Harvey Gantt. by a dollar ratio of two-and- 
a-half to one. And of Helm"s SI 5-million reelection campaign war chest, 65 
percent came from sources outside North Carolina. His pattern is consis- 
tent — the arts is his favorite issue to distort for political gain. 

Now another ingredient has been added — a new force primarily repre- 
sented by Donald Wildmon. leader of the American Family Association, 
and surreptitiously by Pat Robertson, evangelical host of the 700 Club and 
1988 presidential candidate. While many in the arts community regard 
Wildmon and Robertson as fanatics who need not be taken seriously, the 
two in fact represent a growing movement in this country — the Christian 
Reconstructionists. 

While these people may not hold this country's political system in the 
highest esteem, they are adept at using the system. The religious right's 
ability to generate voluminous anti-NEA mail almost overnight, to raise 
millions of dollars to reelect Helms, and to attack selected targets, such as 
the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and corporate supporters of 
Planned Parenthood, such as AT&T and Dayton-Hudson, are small demon- 
strations of the strength they command. 

The arts communities' ability to organize and sustain a broad-based 
effort to fight the religious and political right wing and to help the American 
public understand the need for supporting the arts is a primary requirement 
for the 1990s. The time, resources, and commitment we bring to this 
challenge will be greatly influenced by how effectively we deal with the 
other crisis. 



The Quiet Crisis 



The second crisis afflicting the arts is much harder to see or understand, but 
it is at least as threatening as the first. The quiet crisis is about mounting debt 
and organization dysfunction. 

This crisis is not about incompetent management or bad managers. It is 
not about lack of accountability or bad boards. Nor is it about unappreciated 
productions or bad art. A confluence of factors, financial and otherwise, that 
have developed during the last 10 to 15 years has changed the world by 
happenstance and by careful, calculated design. The three most dramatic 
factors are ( 1 ) financial shifts and the debt culture. < 2 ) the shrinking human 



32 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



capital pool, and (3) overregulation and stagnation in the arts structure and 
community. 

• Factor One: Financial Shifts and the Debt Culture 

About government support of the arts, Ronald Reagan was direct and 
straightforward — he didn't believe in it. Reagan expressed his intention to 
eliminate government support of the arts in word and action. After he took 
office in 1981, Reagan encountered opposition to these plans and had to 
settle for substantial budget cuts. The cuts were anything but welcome, but 
they were preferable to agency elimination. In the true spirit of "the glass is 
half- full because it could have been shattered," the NEA and the field almost 
gratefully accepted the budget cuts. We made the necessary financial 
adjustments and resolved to make up the difference in other ways. 

But while the arts community was settling into this new relationship with 
the federal government, the Reagan/Bush ideological and economic poli- 
cies were penetrating the private and public sector, redistributing wealth 
and creating a very different order of business, power, and debt. 
According to Kevin Phillips, "Under Reagan, federal budget 
policy, like tax changes, became a factor in the realignment 
of wealth. ..The first effect lay in who received more 
government funds. Republican constituencies — military 
producers and installations, agribusiness, bondholders 
and the elderly — clearly benefitted, while decreases in 
social programs hurt democratic interests and constitu- 
encies — the poor, big cities, housing, education," and 
the arts. 

The Reagan administration presided over the big- 
gest peacetime military buildup in US history. To 
finance the defense buildup while cutting taxes, 
the government borrowed heavily and national 
debt soared. Simultaneously, federal spending 
levels for national defense and human resource 
programs were reversed. In 1980, human resources re- 
ceived 28 percent of the federal budget while defense 
received 23 percent. By 1987, human resources were down to 
22 percent and defense had climbed to 28 percent. Several studies of the not- 
for-profit sector at large estimate that over $ 1 00 billion has been withdrawn 
from human resources by the federal government during the 1980s. 

While the eighties celebrated The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the 
Reagan/Bush policies primarily benefitted a relatively small percentage of 
very wealthy individuals. The eighties boom was built on moving assets 
around on paper, not creating new assets. And, of course, it was about 
borrowing and spending money at nearly incomprehensible levels. From 
1980 to 1990, the US went from the world's largest creditor nation to the 
world's largest debtor nation. The combined public and private debt rose 
from $4 trillion in 1980 to $ 10 trillion in 1 990. Those who assert that the arts 
need to be more like business and government should take note that the arts 
have achieved this rather dubious goal — we are deeply and dangerously in 
debt. 

• Factor Two: The Shrinking Human Capital Pool 

The development of the not-for-profit arts field coincided with the coming 




of age of the baby boom generation. This great bulge in the population 
consisted of bright, young, urban-dwelling adults with disposable time and 
income. The boomers provided an extraordinary earned income base, which 
helped fuel the rapid emergence and growth of many arts organizations. 

But the boomers provided a second benefit. Baby boomers were entering 
the job market just as many arts organizations were getting organized. This 
provided the key ingredient — human capital — to an industry historically 
and notoriously low on financial capital. From the late sixties through the 
seventies, arts organizations offering learn/invent-as-you-go entry level 
jobs found a large, eager pool of young, well-educated, idealistic individu- 
als. 

The development of the not-for-profit arts organizations and the coming 
of age of the baby boomers are integrally connected. But as the boomers 
have aged, their lives, interests, responsibilities, and behav- 
ior have grown far more complex. They are married with 
children or are heading single-parent households. They 
have greater job responsibilities. They have moved out of 
the urban areas, which are too expensive and less desir- 
able for raising families. Mostly, they have less dis- 
posable time and income than before. Many boomers 
have left the arts for jobs that can better support their 
families and lifestyles. And they have not been 
replaced from the next generation of the workforce, 
which is considerably smaller. Those who stayed 
in the field have been quickly absorbed into se- 
nior-management positions. 

Access to human capital has been and will 
continue to be as limited as access to financial 
capital. The traditional organizational model de- 
signed in the late sixties and seventies relies heavily on 
human resources to fill middle-management functions such 
as fundraising, marketing, finance. Arts organizations with 
these structures are having a difficult time keeping jobs filled. 
• Factor Three: Overregulation and Stagnation 
While the first two factors — financial and human resources — have changed 
significantly, the third is an example of too little change in the field. The not- 
for-profit arts have come to possess all the characteristics of an over- 
regulated industry. 

In the book Who Profits: Winners and Losers and Government Regula- 
tion, Robert Leone points out that no industry or enterprise in America can 
escape some amount of government regulation. The winners are those 
enterprises that can maintain a safe, profitable, and reasonable distance 
from government regulation. The losers are those who become too close and 
too reliant on regulated conditions, environments, and marketplaces. They 
become so concerned organizationally, managerially, and strategically with 
responding to public policy, funding requirements, and accountability that 
they remove themselves from the swirl of the real, fast-changing market- 
place. Over-regulated industries, over time, come to exist in a state of near- 
suspended animation with little memory of how to function, compete, or 
adapt to an unregulated set of conditions. 

A good example of this is the airline industry. When the airlines were 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 33 



Llxpense budgets are 
driven by growth, and 
income budgets are created 
to balance those expenses 
without regard to whether 
the goals are achievable. 



deregulated in the late seventies there were glimmers of improvements. For 
a while, fares were reduced, and new airlines such as People's Express 
promised to redefine the entire industry. But the established airlines could 
not adapt to such a radical and unfamiliar set of conditions, and in a few short 
years the airlines have virtually recreated the regulated environment they 
existed in, understood, and were comfortable with prior to deregulation. 

What is viewed as bad management in an overregulated industry may in 
fact be very competent managers whose normal patterns of strategic 
response to public policy are either ( 1 ) overwhelmed by radical change in 
a given condition in the overall environment or marketplace or (2) made 
ineffective over time by numerous subtle changes that eventually render 
organizational, management, and strategic functions obsolete. In either 
case, the response is to do more of the same and clamor for change in public 
policy in the form of increased resources or more favorable conditions in 
which to operate. And there are some excellent managers who are highly 
adept at bringing about sympathetic change in public policy. But eventually, 
the environmental change is too great, or the public policy makers grow 
weary of or indifferent to the overly dependent industry. We may have 
w itnessed some of this attitude during past battles over NEA reauthorization 
in recent years. 

Debt Pathology/Symptoms and 
Behavior 

These conditions have created an environment for the arts that ranges from 
volatile to hostile. Consequently, we observe all arts organizations attempt- 
ing to function at a level which is 30 to 50 percent above the floor of available 
human and financial resources. We believe this gap results not only from 
eroding human and financial resources but from inappropriate growth. 

Throughout the evolution of the not-for-profit arts movement, growth 
has been the primary, if not the only, criteria for measuring success. Growth 
has defined success. In many arts organizations, the drive for growth is also 
the usual response to adversity — arts organizations attempt to outgrow their 
problems. For most organizations, growth may have been a possibility in the 
eighties: it will not be possible in the early nineties. 

A great number of organizations have attempted to close the gap by 
simply spending the money anyway, and they have accumulated debts that 
are becoming debilitating or life threatening. 

While no arts organization deliberately courts failure, many create 
situations that preclude success. Expense budgets are driven by growth, and 
income budgets are created to balance those expenses without regard to 
whether the goals are achievable. These "mythical" income budgets set up 
the staff, board, and volunteers for failure. Marketing and fundraising staffs, 
who are often inexperienced, untrained, and immature, feel defeated. 
Frequently they are fired because unrealistic targets are not met. Board 

34 THE INDEPENDENT 



members and volunteers are berated for failing to achieve artificial goals 
that they, secretly, never believed in. Board members believe that if the 
artists would just learn what the audience wants and give it to them, they 
would sell more tickets and raise more money. 

Of at least equal concern is the attempt by organizations to close the gap 
by using human capital — thereby creating a human deficit. When budgets 
do not balance, one frequent response is to lay off staff and ask everyone left 
to work harder. The result is negative energy turned inward — tension and 
frustration building among individuals and a feeling of failure becoming 
systemic within the organization. 

Frequently, these people begin to believe they are the problem. "If I just 
worked harder or longer.. ..If I were smarter....If I did the right things, then 
I would have the right board, the right marketing plan to sell more tickets, 
the right fundraising plan to raise more money" — this is the internal dialog. 
Another effect of the human deficit is that, too often, people feel they are 
victims. They are smart and working hard. They are doing all of the right 
things. But the gap continues to grow, and a sense of being a victim begins 
to take hold. The number of arts professionals and volunteers who are 
experiencing anger, frustration, and feelings of failure is growing at an 
alarming rate. The number leaving their organizations is daunting. 

Community leaders and funding sources are becoming aware of the gap 
but still feel it can be closed through more and better board development, 
long-range planning, market research, and marketing strategies. Funding 
sources hope that not only will the gap be closed through these techniques 
but that surplus income will be generated, so they can reduce funding to arts 
organizations. By focusing their money and energy in these "self-help 
programs" for arts organizations, they are postponing any discussion of the 
real problems and solutions. 



Defining the Gap 



We have observed certain symptoms and warning signs of behavior through- 
out the rise of this crisis. Often these symptoms result from actions and 
decisions intended to alleviate the stress and to solve the crisis. More often, 
however, they contribute to the deepening crisis, creating a cycle of 
behavior that becomes increasingly difficult to break. These symptoms 
include: 

A. Crisis Management — This is the most common symptom and quickly 
evolves into ongoing behavior. The process of facing one emergency after 
another, day after day. prevents both thoughtful assessment of problem 
situations and long- or short-range planning. In short, crisis management 
becomes the only form of management. 

B. Debt Driven — As financial debt increases, many organizations be- 
come debt driven rather than art or artist driven. A debt-driven mentality 
bases almost all decisions and actions — artistic, financial, operational — on 
how the debt will be affected. 

C. Cash Flow — Cash shortages demand immediate solutions and trigger 
strong emotional responses at both staff and board levels. The solution is 
always immediate fundraising. which undercuts regular fundraising plans 
and board involvement. Cash flow, fundraising, and board responsibilities 
become fused, muddled, and inseparable issues. 

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 






D. Secrecy and Denial — Secrecy becomes too common; information is 
treated as a dangerous commodity, and communications — internal and 
external — are held hostage to fear. The outward appearance of being "sound 
and solid" is aggressively asserted to prevent erosion of funding and com- 
munity support. As a result, no one really understands the true condition of 
the organization. 

E. Faltering Systems and Organizational Memory Loss — The rapid 
turnover among staff and board due to stress and burnout threatens the 
operating systems and organizational memory. Three fundraising directors 
in a 1 2-month period will radically alter even the best fundraising program. 

Defining the gap involves placing an organization on a continuum of 
organizational stability. Several benchmarks exist along this con- 
tinuum that we have labeled "pre-edge," "at the edge," and 
"over the edge." 

• Pre-Edge: These organizations are overextended; 
however, the problems are still manageable. There are 
increasing cash flow problems, but financial debt, 
which has been increasing in the past few years, is 
being dealt with by rolling over season ticket income; 
by extending accounts payable; by stacking vendors; 
and by taking out loans. More than likely, lines of 
credit and cash reserves are being converted to debt 
financing. Soon there is growing confusion between 
cash flow problems and debt. Revenue shortfalls result 
in staff reductions. Earned income projections are based 
on each production and program being successful, and there 
is no room for a production not to work. Contributed income 
targets are increased without any change in human resources or any 

plan for how these goals will be achieved. When any aspect of income is 
discussed, the word "hope" is a constant qualifier: "We hope to raise 
$50,000." 

The stress on human resources is beginning to show; tension is growing 
among artists, staff, board, and volunteers. More and more discussions of 
solutions focus on board development and expansion. Finger pointing may 
be beginning. Artists begin suggesting that the board is not raising enough 
money and that the marketing staff is not using the right tools. Board 
members begin suggesting that the artists are not giving the audience what 
it wants. Funders begin pushing for more board development, market 
research, and long-range planning. Ultimately, all energy is going toward 
closing the gap. 

• At the Edge: An organization at the edge experiences a great deal of 
stress and begins feeling a sense of crisis. Dealing with the growing debt and 
cash-flow problems becomes nearly all-consuming. Accounts payable are 
very high, meeting payrolls is problematic, and tax liabilities become a 
reality. While actual income levels out for two to four years, the need to 
balance both growing expense budgets and necessary debt reduction drives 
income projections ever upward, resulting in more unrealistic goals for both 
earned and contributed income. Record keeping and data collection begin 
to fall behind, and the organization does not know its true financial 
condition. At this point, decision-making breaks down and planning pro- 
cesses are absent. 




Human deficit is very high. Staff has been reduced; salaries are frozen; 
turnover is high; and morale is low. Staff with financial responsibility spend 
all of their time dealing with creditors, cash flow, meeting payrolls, and 
saying "no." Marketing and fundraising staff are fired or resign because 
unrealistic income targets cannot be met. The search for a quick fix 
dominates everyone's thinking. 

The board and volunteers become very frustrated. Attendance at board 
meetings is low, and it is often hard to get a quorum. The executive 
committee assumes all of the work of the board. Other committees have 
almost stopped functioning. Fundraising by board members becomes 
problematic because of many members' secret concern that the organization 
may not make it. Perhaps the most critical condition is the sense of 
denial — an enormous amount of energy goes into maintaining 
a facade toward the community that implies everything is 
all right. 

• Over the Edge: All of the conditions described 
above are greatly intensified. For all intents and pur- 
poses, the organization is unable to operate — it is 
bankrupt. Heroic efforts by a couple of board mem- 
bers or a patron may keep enough money coming in 
to meet the absolute minimum to operate each week. 
Every possible way to borrow money has been uti- 
lized: Cash reserves are depleted; every grant award 
letter has been converted to bridge loans; and accounts 
payable are overwhelming. Vendors refuse to extend 
credit. Any of a number of events could be the trigger for 
collapse — a bank closes the account; the IRS takes control of the 
bank accounts; an emergency request to a funder is rejected; the state 
arts council grant is held back; the artists or staff refuse to continue working 
without pay, etc. 

In this situation, decision making and planning has stopped. Marketing 
and fundraising plans are abandoned, and the most obvious tasks are not 
accomplished. A siege mentality settles in, and staff turnover is constant. 
The debt has become pervasive and pathological. 

A Process Leading to Recovery 

The approach we have developed is based upon the specific condition of 
individual organizations. The following description of our process should 
be viewed as a composite and approximate guideline. In general, our work 
with "at the edge" and "over the edge" arts organizations occurs in three 
phases: 

• Immediate Diagnosis/ 'Intenention: First we try to determine if the 
human resources have the will and commitment to continue. Does the 
energy exist to perform the heroic work necessary to save and stabilize the 
organization? If not, we suggest that they begin the process of closing the 
organization. 

If the leadership believes that the will and commitment exist, we look for 
vital signs of health. So often, groups have been in crisis for so long they 
have lost sight of any signs of strength. To help regain a sense of hope, we 
ask the group to visualize the organization as an island: Who and what are 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 35 



1 he gap will not be fixed by giving the 
audience what we think it wants, nor by 
just selling more tickets or just raising 
more money. 



on the island? What assets exist — the acceptance and stability of the art and 
programs? What about sustained earned and contributed income levels? 
What about a committed audience? Then, we identify what assets are not on 
the island and begin to develop strategies to get them there. 

We then try to determine the real financial situation. What is the debt? 
What financial resources exist and are available to be able to operate on a 
day-to-day and a week-to-week basis? 

To better understand the organization's financial condition, we look at 
income projected for the current year against actual income for the past three 
to four years. Has the income been consistent and stable? Has the income 
base been decreasing? If so, in what areas? In most cases, the debt has not 
been created by overspending, but by underachieving income goals. 

The next step is very difficult and painful — to immediately cut operating 
expenses to the level of income. This will seem draconian, but the alterna- 
tive is to close. If there is any hope for survival, the hemorrhaging must be 
stopped. The organization must prove to itself and the community that it will 
not dig the hole any deeper and that it is in control of its operation. This 
balancing of expenses with income is a very difficult equation to find. 
Expense cuts will affect income, which will trigger other cuts. It will not be 
possible to make these expense cuts by working through the budget and 
trimming here and there. Given the size of the expense cuts required, major 
expense sections usually have to be eliminated. Whole projects orprograms 
will have to go. If the organization is to continue, it is better that decisions 
are made internally and not by external local entities such as creditors or a 
citizens bankruptcy committee put in place by a funder. 

A small group of staff and board needs to be identified and charged with 
the responsibility of developing strategies for debt financing or refinancing. 
This tool is essential as we begin the stabilization and recovery process. In 
order to refinance debts, convincing proof must be shown that income 
projects for the current year are coldly realistic, expenses have been reduced 
to align with the income budget, and the organizational behavior has 
changed. 

In most cases, organizations have denied that there is a problem. A face 
of "everything is all right" has been directed toward the community. Thus, 
the organization must begin communicating with all its constituents — 
artists, staff, board, volunteers, audiences, funders, media and community, 
state and national leadership. This is not a frantic, save-the-organization 
approach. It is a very thoughtful and frank discussion of the realities of the 
community, the condition of the organization, and the short-term strategies. 
Each group is asked for appropriate support and restraint. This communi- 
cation must continue throughout the entire recovery and reconceptualization 
process. 

The organization's key leadership will be designated as the crisis action 
team. This team will need to meet once a week and draw upon other staff, 
board members, and volunteers as resources. This recruiting of more help 
should not focus on getting more board members, as this is the very worst 
time to try to recruit people for the board. The approach is to identify all of 
the jobs that need to be done and then to cast the appropriate people to do 
the jobs. 

• Assessment and Evaluation/Stopping the Hemorrhaging: In the second 



36 THE INDEPENDENT 



step, a team of arts marketing, fundraising, and financial experts is brought 
in to do an in-depth analysis of the organization. Often the organization does 
not know its true operational, financial, and debt situation. The absolute 
bottom line must be found so that planning, strategies, and actions can be 
based on this knowledge. Nothing is more demoralizing than for the 
organization to describe its financial situation and a month later discover 
another pocket of debt. 

This phase is concerned with stopping the hemorrhaging. This requires 
a change of behavior by the organization — any attempted reversion to the 
old behavior must be stopped. The belief that "just as soon as we have gotten 
through this crisis we can go back to business as usual" is false. 

• Stabilization/Recovery: The next phase is to build a secure foundation 
under the real floor of human and financial resources. The goals of this phase 
include: increasing the number and quality of the human resources involved 
with the organization; developing and executing timely and effective 
marketing and fundraising programs; restoring infrastructure to staff, 
board, and volunteers; developing a debt reduction plan; and beginning 
appropriate planning cycles. Up to this point, the work has been reactive — 
putting out fires. 



Th, 



Lhe process of work with pre-edge organizations can be very PRO- 
ductive, satisfying, and liberating. The process is thoughtful, positive, 
organic, and moves at a controlled pace. There are two phases to this work: 
understanding the gap and stabilizing and strengthening the floor. 

• Understanding the Gap: This phase focuses on understanding the 
degree to which the organization is overextended. In doing this, there are 
three areas to explore. First, we must understand that up until now, goals, 
expectations, and growth as measures of success have been driving the 
organization. Second, everyone must begin to understand the new realities 
of the world in which the organization exists, how much the environment 
has changed, and how it is anticipated that it will continue to change. Third, 
given the artistic work and environment, everyone must clearly understand 
the floor of human and financial resources that are realistic and achievable. 

These three explorations will help the organization develop the under- 
standing that the stress it is experiencing and the potential threat it faces are 
the result of the gap. The stress is not the result of bad art, bad management, 
or a bad board. It will also be clear that the gap will not be fixed by giving 
the audience what we think it wants, nor by just selling more tickets or just 
raising more money. 

• Stabilizing and Strengthening the Floor: The purpose of this phase is to 
make sure that the organization makes every effort possible to generate the 
maximum amount of earned and contributed revenue. In many organiza- 
tions there are a great number of distractions that direct energy away from 
achieving income goals. Delays in planning, a lack of decision making, 
inappropriate or ineffective materials, staff changes, disappointing commit- 
tee leadership, and focusing on projects that are of little direct benefit are 
some examples. The goal of this phase is to take all distractions off of the 
table, so everyone's energy will be effectively directed toward stabilizing 
and strengthening the floor of financial resources. 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 






A Process for Reconceptualization 
and Redesign 

Whatever process of recovery an organization may work through, when it 
is stabilized, we strongly recommend a process of reconceptualization and 
redesign. Up to this point, survival was the question. At this point, the lead- 
ership can come together to thoughtfully and positively explore whether or 
not there is a different organization to be conceived. 

This begins with discussions about the artistic work. Is the organization 
satisifed with the work and the plateau of human and financial resources? 
Is the organization dissatisfied with the artistic center, and does it wish to 
alter or enhance the work? This does not mean reverting to old behavior by 
building a wish list that is not in relationship to the realistic and available 
human and financial resources. Any change in the artistic work will require 
a change in human and financial resources. 

Reconceptualization and redesign begin with a return to the center of the 
organization — a confirmation of the philosophy, the aesthetic, and the 
person or persons who make the decisions about how the organization 
fulfills its mission. Only arts professionals can lead this process. 

The next step is to find the throughline or foundation required for the core 
mission to be achieved. What is the irreducible minimum for the organiza- 
tion to fulfill its mission? That is, what elements of the organization are 
demanded by the work and the work process, not by what we expect, 
deserve, desire, or think is expected by external forces? Each existing 
program and project must be examined to see if it supports the center. 

The next question is, "Can the throughline or foundation be brought into 
balance with the floor of human and financial resources?" Solving this 
equation will require creativity and flexibility. By focusing early attention 
on those elements of the organization that are necessary for achievement of 
the mission, the givens that are not negotiable are established. Once the 
givens are determined, everything else is subject to question. 

Reconceptualizing and redesigning an arts organization is not a matter of 
downsizing. Arts organizations are already downsized — they are 
underfinanced, understaffed, and overextended by 30 to 50 percent. We 
have tried to close the gap by getting smaller, which amounts to 
balancing the equation on the backs of human resources. This 
does not work. 

One obstacle to reconceptualization is how arts orga- 
nizations regard growth and institutional development. 
It has been a guiding principle that every organization 
would grow until it could meet everyone's personal, 
professional, and artistic needs. Hiring more artists, 
for more money, for longer periods of time, having 
an artistic home, expanding middle management, 
and providing health care, pensions, and sab 
baticals are all manifestations of this assump 
tion. We have assumed that, eventually, 
everyone could make their living and be 
artistically satisfied by the organiza 
tion. In today's environment, arts or- 




ganizations cannot be large enough to meet everyone's personal, profes- 
sional, and artistic needs. 

This may mean we are going to have to redefine what is meant by 
professional. What are an organization's responsibilities? What are the 
criteria for defining serious professionals who are not necessarily making 
their living from an organization? We must begin to identify the arts 
professionals who are critical to the organization and secure their artistic, 
professional, and personal needs. Outside of these, no other arts profession- 
als can expect their needs to be fully met by the organization. This seems like 
an extreme measure, but the decision not to take this step will continue 
unrealistic expectations of growth, leading to burnout and debt, and, 
eventually, to closing institutions. 

The process of reconceptualization and redesign must include the possi- 
bility of closing the organization. Perhaps the core mission has been 
fulfilled. Perhaps the artists have chosen to move on. Perhaps the equation 
cannot be balanced and the resources to support the work are no longer 
available. Closing an arts organization should be a choice based on a 
thorough and positive process of reconceptualization. Again, the closing 
should be well planned and dignified, and the body of work that has been 
created should be celebrated. 

Will an organization brought into balance be locked at this size forever? 
No. Once the floor of human and financial resources is stabilized, it can be 
altered. Over time, the human resources may increase with the ability to 
generate more income. The outside environment may change, freeing more 
resources. Or, short-term projects may be developed. If the throughline is 
the foundation supporting the body of work, then other projects, when 
funded, can balloon up from that foundation. And when the project is 
complete, the balloon collapses and the throughline has not been altered. 

While these are very stressful and discouraging times, we believe there 
are encouraging things to note. By acknowledging that the arts are reflecting 
the same patterns of debt and dysfunction as business and government, our 
survival becomes a success. It is remarkable that the most overregulated, 
undercapitalized segment of all — the not-for-profit arts — has fared as well 
as it has. And we know that the same extraordinary arts professionals who 
have kept body and soul together under current conditions are equal to 
the task of creating a new order of business for the arts. 

This article is excerpted from FEDAPT's 1989/1990 Annual 

Report, entitled The Workpapers: A Special Report — The Quiet 

Crisis in the Arts. For a complete copy, contact: American 

Council on the Arts, 1285 Avenue of the Americas, 3rd fl.. New 

York, NY 10019; (212) 245-4510. 

Nello McDaniel was executive director of FED APT 

• . from 1 987 until its closing in 1991 . George Thorn was 

a FED APT consultant and is director of the graduate 

program in Arts Administration at Virginia Tech. 

McDaniel and Thorn recently cofounded and 

codirect ARTS Action Research, an arts 

consulting and research group based in 

Alexandria. Virginia. 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 37 



ELLEN LEVY 



IN AND OUT OF 
PRODUCTION 



Bom in Berlin and raised in Charleston. South 
Carolina, author Ludwiii Lewisohn (1882-1955) 
grew up to become one of the most outspoken 
critics of US materialism, bigotry, and puritanism 
in the first quarter of the twentieth century. De- 
spite his success as a poet and scholar and his 
coin ersion to Methodism, Lewisohn was denied 
membership in the local fraternity and barred 
from teaching at universities because he was bom 
a Jew. Making his personal conflicts into em- 
blems of deep-seated dilemmas, the brilliant, para- 
noid Lew isohn illuminated dark comers of Victo- 
rian America with works such as Up Stream 
i 1 l> 22 ) and The Case of Mr. Crump (1926) which, 
though censored in the US, became classics abroad. 
Production has begun on A Touch of Wildness: 
The Story of Ludwig Lewisohn. a 90-minute 
film directed by expatriate Roy Lekus. w ritten by 
novelist Harlan Greene, and produced by Peter 
Wentworth (coproducer of Metropoli- 
tan). A Touch of Wildness: Peter 
Wentworth, Allagash Films, 701 East 
Bay St.. Charleston. SC 29401. 

At last a video that will make you 
"happier and healthier, improve your 
sex life, and even create miracles.'* Cre- 
ated to inspire more sensual and sexual 
pleasure in women's lives. The Sluts 
and Goddesses of Transformation 
Salon, by Maria Beatty and Annie 
Sprinkle, is an absurd and worshipful 
look at sex. Eroticist Annie Sprinkle, 
w ith her team of transformation facili- 
tators, guides the viewer through the 
45-minute video, revealing the erotic 
side of such pleasure stimulators as 
flagellation by oak leaves, gender bend- 
ing, body shaving, body painting, men- 
strual blood, rhythmic deep breathing, passionate 
safe sex, and more! Premiering at the Kitchen in 
New York City. February 1 6th. Sluts andGodesses: 
Maria Beatty. 303 East 8th St.. #DE, New York, 
NY 10009; (212) 260-2431. 

California documentarians Beth Sanders and 
Randy Baker are in production on a one-hour 
video documentary about self-censorship by the 
press. Focusing on the stories of journalists who 
have experienced censorship within their news 
organizations. Fire Wall includes interviews with 
Sydney Schanberg. Francis Cerra, and John Hess 
of the New York Times: Ben Bagdikian. professor 
of journalism at the University of California, 
Berkeley: Lowell Bergman, a producer w ith CBS ' 
60 Minutes: and Jon Alpert. a former freelance 
producer for NBC. By reviewing press coverage 
of three stories — the viability of nuclear power, 
the US war in the Persian Gulf, and the surge of 
homelessness in the 1980s and 1990s — Fire Wall 
examines the institutional constraints under which 
journalists create news and how these constraints 



affect content. Fire Wall: Beth Sanders, 302 31st 
Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121; (415) 752-9616. 
General Electric says that they "bring good 
things to life." But do they? Deadly Deception: 
General Electric, Nuclear Weapons, and Our 
Environment, a half-hour video by Debra 
Chasnoff, juxtaposes pieces of GE's television 
commercials with the harrowing stories of people 
w hose lives have been devastated by the company ' s 
nuclear weapons manufacturing. The tape was 
commissioned by INFACT, the national corpo- 
rate accountability organization that is promoting 
a GE Boycott. Deadly Deception: 2017 Mission 
Street, 2nd fl.. San Francisco, CA 941 10; (415) 




Move over Jane Fonda! The Sluts and Goddesses 
Transformation Salon, by Maria Beatty and Annie 
Sprinkle, revamps the self-improvement video. 

Courtesy videomokers 

252-1344; fax: (415) 863-9314. 

For anyone who has missed the miles of bill- 
boards that line 1-95, here's an opportunity to 
experience South Carolina's South of the Border 
without getting out of your car. South of the 
Border, a half-hour verite documentary by North 
Carolina independent Lisa Napoli, was shot on 
the grounds of the 130 acre South of the Border 
roadside park during the 1990 Labor Day week- 
end. The videotape captures a wedding, a family 
reunion of descendents of slaves, a family moving 
from Massachusetts to Florida in a Grateful Dead- 
type bus, and sundry tourists who offer diverse 
reasons for why they stopped and what they find. 
South of the Border: Lisa Napoli, (919) 852-4590. 

With 95 percent of California's original red- 
wood forests gone, what will be left for future 



generations? The Forest through the Trees, 

produced by Frank Green, examines the dispute 
between environmentalists and the logging indus- 
try over old-growth redwoods in California's 
Humboldt County. Narrated by Sydney Pollack, 
The Forest through the Trees is available through 
the Video Project, as is Rain Forests: Proving 
Their Worth, by Jonathan Schwartz. Traversing 
the landscape of rain forest commerce, Proving 
Their Worth combines archival footage with first- 
person accounts to look at recent efforts to save 
the rain forest and its people. Rain Forests: Prov- 
ing Their Worth and The Forest Through the 
Trees: The Video Project, 5332 College Avenue, 
Suite 101. Oakland, CA 94618; (415) 655-9050; 
fax:(415)655-9115. 

On May 1, 1990, homeless people in eight 
cities took the law into their own hands. From the 
blocking of a HUD house auction in Oakland, to 
the seizing of five houses in Minneapolis, to a 
police riot in New York City's Tompkins Square 
Park, Americans took over houses rather than 
living and dying in the streets. Takeover, a one- 
hour documentary by Pamela Yates and 
Peter Kinoy, is an insider's view of 
these national hous-ing takeovers. Shot 
simultaneously by 12 crews in eight 
cities over three days, the film brought 
together local organizers with volun- 
teer crews willing to risk arrest to shoot 
the footage. Yates and Kinoy had one 
month lead time and almost no money 
to mount the shoot of unspecified ille- 
gal actions in a dozen cities by people 
extremely distrustful of the media, but 
support from Bruce Springsteen, 
Michael Moore, and the MacArthur 
Foundation enabled the project to go 
ahead. The film incorporates footage 
shot by amateurs and professionals in 
16mm, 35mm, and a variety of video 
formats. Kinoy and Yates are develop- 
ing five additional programs on the emerging poor 
people's movement. Takeover: Peter Kinoy/ 
Pamela Yates, 330 West 42nd St., 24th fl., NY, 
NY 10036; (212)947-5333; fax: (212)643-1208. 
An accident that temporarily blinds and hospi- 
talizes a man becomes the narrow thread by which 
his philosophies and notions of life are woven in 
The Madness of the Day. a 35mm film written 
and directed by Terrance Grace. Adapted from a 
story by Maurice Blanchot, The Madness of the 
Day retains Blanchot's elusive narrative within 
the series of monologues presented by the name- 
less main character. Struggling to recount the 
events, the man brings to the surface his relation- 
ship with The Doctors and a woman whom he 
refers to as The Law. The film transforms litera- 
ture and theater into a surreal cinematic environ- 
ment, creating a tangible space bom of the word 
and concepts of madness and challenging the idea 
of story. The Madness of the Day: Terrance Grace. 
301 West 45th St.. Suite 12B, New York, NY 
10036; (212) 307-0523. 



38 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



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FESTIVALS 



Domestic 

\M\N UtfERII \N INTERNATIONAL FILM FES- 
UN al. June. NY. New film & video prods b> established 
urging Asian & Asian American producers are 
focus of noncompetitive fest, now celebrating 15th 
anni\ Features & shorts accepted. Cats: experimental. 
doc., narrative, installations. Fest goes on 5 mo. tour of 
N. Amer. Format: 35mm. 16mm: preview on cassette. 
Deadline: Mar. 15. Contact: Peter Chow. Asian American 
Int'l Film Festival. Asian CineVision. 32 E. Broadway . 
New York, NY 10002; (212) 925-8685; fax: (212) 925- 
8157. 

ATHENS INTERNATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO FES- 
TIVAL, May 1-7. OH. Unique forum for ind. & int'l 
w ork that seeks to expand horizons of regional Appala- 
chian audience & large multicultural univ. community. 
Cats: narrative (traditional & narrative), doc. (traditional 
& narrative), experimental, animation. Screenings of 
selected competition works, variety int'l features, 
lectures, workshops & screenings by guest artists. 
Selected works awarded rental fees for fest showings. 
Entry fees: S25-50. depending on length. Formats: 35mm. 
16mm. 3/4". 1/2". 8mm/ camcorder. Deadline: Feb. 24 
(film). Mar. 9 (video). Contact: Athens Center for Film 
& Video. Box 388, Athens, OH 4570 1 ; (6 1 4) 593- 1 330. 

BIG MUDDY FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL. Feb.. IL. 
Now in 14th yr. competitive fest for ind. film & video 
organized & run by students: 3 ind. filmmakers present 
work & serve as judges. Sections: best of fest. jurors' 
presentations, competition, children's films, animation. 
Entries must be completed after 12/90. Entry fee: $25- 
35. depending on length. Formats : 1 6mm. 3/4" . Deadline: 
Feb. 1. Contact: Big Muddy Film Festival. Dept. of 
Cinema & Photography. S. Illinois Univ. at Carbondale. 
Carbondale. IU 62901: (618) 453-1475. 

CINE-COUNCIL ON INTERNATIONAL NONTHEA- 
TRICAL EVENTS GOLDEN EAGLE FILM & VIDEO 
COMPETITION. Dec. 5-6. DC. Nontheatrical films & 
videos w/ exception of TV ads & spot announcements 
eligible forcompetition. w hich aw ards Golden Eagles in 
cats: amateur, agriculture, animation/children's films, 
arts/crafts, business/industry, doc., education, enter- 
tainment/shorts, nature/environmont. history, medicine, 
oceanography, public health, safety/training, science, 
services, sports, travel. Entries must be US prods. CINE 
enters award winners in foreign fests. Winners also 
eligible for Academy Awards nominations. Awards 
ceremony marks CINE's 35th yr. Entries judged by 
various juries comprising over 500 film/video 
professionals. East yr 716 entries received. Send appl. 
first: no films or tapes until instructed. Entry fee: S45 & 
up. depending on length. Formats: 1 6mm. 3/4" . Deadline: 
Feb. 1. Contact: CINE. 1001 Connecticut Ave.. NW, 
Suite 1016, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 785-1136; 
fax:(202)785-4114. 

HOMETOWN USA VIDEO FESTIVAL, July. Sponsored 
by Nat'l Federation of Uocal Cable Programmers 
(NFLCPj; competitive fest. begun in 1977, recognizes 
outstanding local programs produced for or by local 
organization & public, educational & government access 
operations. Awards: 4 special awards for overall 
excellence in public access programming, local origin- 
ation, educational & government access; finalists, 
honorable mentions & winners in 34 cats. Cats incl. 
performing arts; ethnic expression; entertainment: sports; 
by & for youth; live: municipal: religious: educational; 
instructional/training: informational; innovative: int'l: 



This month's festivals have been compiled 
by Kathryn Bowser, director of the FIVF 
Festival Bureau. Listings do not constitute 
an endorsement. Since some details 
change faster than we do, we recommend 
that you contact the festival for further 
information before sending prints or tapes. 
In order to improve our reliability & make 
this column more beneficial to indepen- 
dents, we encourage all film- & video- 
makers to contact the FIVF Festival Bureau 
with their personal festival experiences, 
positive & negative. 



by & for senior citizens: PSA; doc. profile/event/public 
awareness; video art; music video; local news: magazine 
format: original teleplay. Entries must be produced in 
previous yr. Fest annually receives 2100 entries from 
434 cities. Entry fees: S20-50. incl. S5 postage for return 
shipping. Formats: 3/4", 1/2". Deadline: Mar. 6. Contact: 
Sue Buske. The Buske Group, 2015 J St.. Ste 28. 
Sacramento. CA 95814; (916) 441-6277: fax: (916) 
441-7670. 

INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL. Apr. 
1 -4. MT. Films & videos w/ focus on any nondomes- 
ticated wildlife eligible for competition, as well as 
productions concerned w/ habitat or its destruction, 
conservation, ecology, research, plants, special art forms, 
orpeople's interaction w/ wildlife. Cats: agency/private 
group: independent; low-budget ind.: music video: PSA; 
student/amateur: TV news feature: TV news spot: TV 
series episode: TV special; art/experimental; children's; 
hunting/fishing: human dimensions: indigenous people: 
wildlife habitat/environmental concerns. Great Bear 
Award for Best of Fest. Entries must be produced, 
completed, or released in 1991. Fest activities incl. 
major environmental/music event, underw ater filming 
workshop, art displays, photo contest, speakers, field 
trips. Formats: 16mm, 3/4", 1/2". Entry fee: S25-125. 
Deadline: Feb. 28. Contact: Charles Jonkel. Int'l Wildlife 
Film Fest, Box 9383, 280 E. Front. Missoula. MT 
59807: (406) 728-9380: fax: (406) 543-6232. 

NEIGHBORHOOD FILM/VIDEO PROJECT FESTIVAL 
OF INDEPENDENTS. May. PA. Film, video & audio 
works of all forms, genres. & lengths by artists based in 
Delaware Valley accepted for 7th edition of fest. Works 
in progress considered if final work w ill be ready by 4/ 
10/92. Deadline: Jan. 31. Contact: Uinda Blackaby. 
director. NFVP. 3701 Chestnut St.. Philadelphia. PA 
19104: (215) 895-6542: fax: (215) 895-6562. 

NEW ENGLAND FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL. May 

21-23. MA. Open to ind. & college student film & 
videomakers w/ works completed since 1990. Media 
works of all lengths eligible. No more than 2 entries per 
artist. Awards of up to S5.000 in cash & services in ind. 



& student cats, w/ separate award distinctions for out- 
standing film & video. Work accepted in narrative, doc., 
animation & experimental genres. Copresented by Arts 
Extension Service & Boston Film/Video Foundation & 
sponsored by Boston Phoenix. Formats: 1 6mm, super 8, 
3/4", 1/2". Entry fee: S35 independents. $25 college 
students. Deadline: Jan. 31 (ind.), Feb. 7 (student). 
Contact: NEFVF, Arts Extension Service. Division of 
Continuing Education. 604 Goodell Bldg.. Univ. of 
Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003; (413) 545-2360: 
fax:(413)545-3351. 

NEW JERSEY YOUNG FILM AND VIDEOMAKERS 
FESTIVAL. May. NJ. Entrants w/ current or family 
residence in NJ eligible for fest celebrating student 
talent. Cats: elementary, middle, jr. HS. college, univ.. 
ind. Any style on any subject, max. 30 min., completed 
after Jan. 1. 1990. Entry fee: SI 5. Formats: 16mm. super 
8,3/4". 1/2". Deadline: Mar. 15. Contact: Robert Lynch, 
NJ Young Film & Videomakers Festival. Humanities 
Dept., NJ Inst, of Technology, Newark, NJ 07 102; (20 1 ) 
596-3281; fax: (201) 565-0586. 

NYU/SCE FILMMAKERS NETWORK FILM FESTIVAL. 

Feb. 29, NY. Juried fest open to current & former New 
York Univ./School of Continuing Education film & 
video students. Features, short narrative, music video, 
animation, experimental, docs accepted. Entry fee: $35. 
Format: 35mm. 16mm, 3/4", 1/2"; preview on 1/2". 
Deadline: Jan 17. Contact: NYU/SCE Filmmakers 
Network, c/o Film, Video & Broadcasting Dept.. 26 
Washington PI.. New York, NY 10003: (2 1 2) 998-7296; 
fax:(212)995-4136. 

SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. May 

14- June 7. WA. Now in 18thyr, fest one of largest non- 
competitive in NW. Features (over 60 min.) & shorts 
( under 20 min. ) accepted. Each yr about 1 40 films from 
40 countries screened. Program incl. several US & 
world premieres & special events (tributes, seminars, 
midnight screenings). Formats: 35mm. 16mm: preview 
on cassette. Entry fee: $50 (features). $10 (shorts). 
Deadline: Mar. 15. Contact: Dairy 1 MacDonald. Seattle 
Int'l Film Festival. 801 E. Pine St.. Seattle, WA 98122; 
(206) 324-9996: fax: (206) 324-9998. 

SLICE OF LIFE FILM AND VIDEO SHOWCASE, July 10 
-11, PA. Presented in Central Pennsylvania Festival of 
Arts, fest seeks films & videos that depict "special 
moments of everyday life — those moments of truth that 
would otherwise go unrecognized." Accepeted artists 
will receive cash award & prizes. Deadline: Apr. 1 . Send 
work (@ 30 min.) on 16mm or 1/2" w/ return shipping. 
Contact: Sedgwick Heskett. director. Slice of Life Film 
& Video Showcase. Documentary Resource Center, 
1 06 Boalsburg Pike. Box 909. Uemont. PA 1 685 1 : (8 14) 
234-1945. 

UNITED STATES INDUSTRIAL FILM FESTIVAL. June 

5. IL. Competitive fest devoted exclusively to sponsored, 
industrial & business films & videos. Cats: advertising/ 
sales/promotion: agriculture/forestry/oceanography: art/ 
culture: career guidance: community development; doc.; 
education: employee relations/dealer communications; 
environment/energy /conservation: fundraising: history/ 
biography: industrial/technical processes: medicine/ 
health: nature/w ■ildlife: politics: PR: recreation; religion: 
safety/insurance: sciences; specialty productions; TV 
commercials; TV/home video programming: training: 
travel/geography/transporation. Awards: Gold Camera 
Award. Silver Screen Award. Certificate of Creative 
Excellence. Entries must be completed in 18 mo. prior 
todeadline. Formats: 16mm, 3/4". 1/2". Entrv fee: $130. 



40 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 




THE HOUSTON INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 

25TH ANNUAL WORLDFEST 92! 
THE DISCOVERY FESTIVAL! APRIL 24-MAY 3, 1992 



Houston WorldFest 92 offers you the 
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the world in terms of entries. We present 
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production. Now WorldFest 92 offers you 
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with more than two million 
dollars in cash prizes through our 
Discovery Festival Program, where 
winners are submitted to the top 150 
international festivals. No other festival 
or film market provides you so much! 



FOR THE COMPLETE ENTRY & INFORMATION KIT, PLUS POSTER, CONTACT: 

J. HUNTER TODD, CHAIRMAN & FOUNDER-WORLDFEST HOUSTON , P.O. BOX 56566, HOUSTON, TEXAS 77256 

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• Insurance • 

• Festival Bureau • 

• Advocacy • 

• Seminars • 

• Discounts • 

• Free MTE Directory • 



Call or write: 

625 Broadway, 9th floor 

New York, NY 10012 

(212)473-3400 



Deadline: Mar. 1. Contact: J. W.Anderson, chair/Patricia 
Meyer, executive director, US Industrial Film & Video 
Festival, 841 N. Addison Ave., Elmhurst, IL 60126- 
1291; (708) 834-7773; fax: (708) 834-5565. 

USA FILM FESTIVAL, Apr. 23-30, TX. Fest has 3 major 
components: major noncompetitive feature section (now 
in 22nd yr); National Short Film & Video Competition 
(in 14th yr); & KidFilm (held Jan. 13-19) for shorts & 
features. Feature section programmed by artistic dir. To 
submit feature or short film, send preview cassette w/ 
publicity & prod. info. Short film/video competition 
showcases new & significant US work. Entries should 
be under 60 min., completed after Jan. 1, 1991. Cash 
prizes awarded in cats of narrative ($1,000); nonfiction 
($1,000); animation ($1,000); experimental ($1,000); 
Charles Samu Award ($500); 5 special jury awards 
($250). Grand Prize winner flown to Dallas to receive 
cash, award & present winning film/video. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, 3/4", 1/2", Beta. Deadline: Mar. 2. 
Contact: Richard Peterson, artistic director; Ann 
Alexander, managing director, US A Film Festival, 29 1 7 
Swiss Ave., Dallas. TX 75226; (214) 821-6300; fax: 
(2141821-6364. 

WORLDFEST-HOUSTON INTERNATIONAL FILM 
FESTIVAL, April 24-May 3, TX. Establ. in 1979, 
competitive fest has grown to event attracting over 
3,150 entries from 43 countries, premiering over 100 
features & 200 shorts, docs & experimental prods. 
Competition in several cats, incl.: feature, doc, TV 
prod., experimental & ind. film/video, shorts, TV 
commercials & PS As, music videos, screenplays, student 
prods & new media. Cash prizes & trophies awarded. 
Worldfest also incl. market w/ buyers & distributors in 
attendance; works-in-progress section in market. Fest 
entry fee: $25-100; market entry fee: $200. Fest held at 
Greenway Plaza Theaters, Museum of Fine Arts, Rice 
Media Center. Deadline: Mar. 2. Contact: J. Hunter 
Todd, director, 25th WorldFest. Box 56566, Houston. 
TX 77256-6566; tel: (713) 965-9955; fax: (713) 965- 
9960. 



Foreign 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 



BANFF TELEVISION FESTIVAL, June 7-13, Canada. 
Fest includes int'l competition which awards "Rockies;" 
conference for TV professionals; & informal copro- 
duction marketplace. Cats: TV features, limited series, 
continuing series, short dramas, TV comedies, social/ 
political docs, popular science programs, arts docs, 
performance specials, children's programs. Entries for 
competition must be made for TV (films in theatrical 
release ineligible). Entries originally in English or French 
must TV premiere between Mar. 29, 1991 & Apr. 1, 
1992. Entry fee: $188 Canadian. Deadline: Mar. 17. 
Contact: Banff Television Festival. Box 1020, Banff, 
Alberta, Canada, TOL 0C0; tel: (403) 762-3060; fax: 
(403) 762-5357. 

BLACK INTERNATIONAL CINEMA BERLIN, Apr. 23- 
May 3, Germany. Organized by Fountainhead Tanz 
Theatre in assoc. w/Cultural Zephyr, fest screens cinema 
from African diaspora focusing on works of artistic, 
cultural, or political nature coinciding w/ interests of 
African people. Program incl. films, seminars, exhibitions 
& performances by multinational, multicultural, 
multiracial & multiethnic artists, filmmakers & intel- 
lectuals. Award of $ 1 .000 each & plaque to: best film/ 
video by black filmmaker: best film/video on matters 
relating to black experience (open to all non-German 
filmmakers); best film/video by German filmmaker or 



42 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



filmmaker residing in Germany that portrays injustices 
inherent in racist, sexist, or homophobic society. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, 3/4", 1/2"; preview oncassette. Deadline: 
Jan. 31. Contact: Black International Cinema Berlin 
1992, c/o Stephan Gangstead, US Embassy Office- 
Berlin, Unit 26738 A.H. (R.S.), A.P.O. A.E. 09 235- 
5500. 

CANNES INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, May, 

France. 45th yr of largest int'l fest, attended by 35,000 
guests, incl. stars, directors, distribs, buyers & journalists. 
Intensive round-the-clock screenings, parties, cere- 
monies, press conferences & one of world's major film 
markets. Screening or award at Cannes provides fame & 
prestige. Selection Committee, appointed by 
Administration Board, chooses entries for Official 
Competition (about 20 films) & for Un Certain Regard 
section. Films must be made w/in prior 12 months, 
released only in country of origin & not entered in other 
film fests. Official component consists of 3 sections: In 
Competition, features & shorts compete for major fest 
awards (Palme d'Or, Special Jury Prize, Best Director/ 
Actress/Actor/Artistic Contribution); Special Out-of- 
Competition, features ineligible for competition (e.g. 
films by previous winners of Palme d'Or); Un Certain 
Regard (noncompetitive), forfilms of int'l quality which 
do not qualify for Competition, significant innovative 
features, films by new directors, etc. Parallel sections 
incl. Quinzaine des Realisateure (Directors' Fortnight), 
main sidebar for new talent, sponsored by Assoc, of 
French Film Directors; La Semaine de la Critique (Int'l 
Critics Week), selection of 1st or 2nd features & docs 
chosen by members of French Film Critics Union 
(selections must be completed w/in 2 yrs prior to fest) & 
Perspectives on French Cinema. Market, administered 
separately, screens films in main venue & local theater. 
Top prizes incl. Official Competition's Palme d'Or 
(feature & short) & Camera d'Or (best 1st film in any 
section). For info & accreditation, contact: Catherine 
Verret, French Film Office, 745 Fifth Ave., New York, 
NY 10151;(212)832-8860,fax:(212) 755-0629. Official 
Sections: Festival International du Film (deadline Mar. 
1 ), 7 1 , rue du Faubourg St. Honore, 75008 Paris, France; 
tel: 146 66 92 20; fax: 1 426668 85,telex:FESTIFI650 
765 F. Quinzaine des Realisateurs (deadline Apr. 17), 
Societe des Realisateurs de Films, 215 Faubourg St. 
Honore, 75008 Paris, France; tel: 1 45 61 01 66, fax: 1 
40 74 07 96. Semaine International de la Critique 
(deadline Mar. 1), Claude Beylie, president, 90, rue 
d'Amsterdam, 75009 Paris, France; tel: 1 40 16 98 30. 
Cannes Film Market, attn: Marcel Lathiere, Michel P. 
Bonnet, 71, rue du Faubourg St. Honore, 75008 Paris, 
France, tel: 1 42 66 92 20; fax: 1 42 66 68 85; telex: 
FESTIFI 650765. 

MEDIAWAVE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF 
VISUAL ARTS, Apr. 29-May 3, Hungary. Accepts films, 
videos, installations, image/sound experimental works 
that reflect ethnic, religious, musical, sexual & other 
aspects of small communities, ethnic groups, spiritual & 
other communities. Entries must be completed after 
1989. No entry fee, but enclose $10 for return postage. 
Deadline: Jan. 31. Contact: International Festival of 
Visual Arts, Soproni utca 45, H-9028 Gyor, Hungary; 
tel: 36 96 18825/10559; fax: 36 96 10559/31559. 

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 

June 5-20, Australia. Now in 41st yr, fest is one of 
Australia's two largest & its oldest. Director programs 
eclectic mix of ind. work showing "innovation & 
originality," w/ special interest in feature docs & shorts. 
Each yr substantial program of new Australian cinema 



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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 43 



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Sound effects library and sound transfers 
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programmed. Int'l short film competition (now in 30th 
yr) important part of fest, w/cash prizes in 7 cats: Grand 
Prix ($4,000) & $1,500 each in doc., fiction, exper- 
imental, student, animation, & science. Especially 
looking for entries for children's section & new science 
film award. Competition entries must be under 60 min. 
& completed on 35mm or 1 6mm since Jan. 1 99 1 . Super 
8 & video screened out of competition. Fest useful 
window to Australian theatrical & nontheatrical, 
educational distribs & new Australian TV networks 
interested in buying shorts. Entry fee: A$20 (about 
USS15). Formats: 35mm, 16mm, super 8, 3/4". Deadline: 
Mar. 20. Contact: Tait Brady, director. Melbourne Int'l 
Film Festival, Box 12367.41 A'Beckett St., Melbourne 
3000, Australia; tel: 03 663-2953/663-1896; fax: 03 
662-1218. 

MONTBELIARD INTERNATIONAL VIDEO AND 
TELEVISION FESTIVAL, June 16-21. France. 7th yr. 
int'l competition for video (film transfers not accepted) 
that is original in style & reflects personal research. Fest 
theme: In the Blind Spot of Reason. All cats accepted. 
Awards: Grand Prize: lOO.OOOFF: 2nd Prize: 50,0OOFF; 
3rd Prize: 25.000FF. Entries must be produced after 
June 30. 1 990. Program incl. special screenings, debates, 
professional meetings & workshop on video editing. 
Format: 3/4". Entry fee: 250FF. Deadline: Jan. 31. 
Contact: Manifestation Internationale de Video et de 
Television. Centre International de Creation Video 
Montbeliard Belfort . BP5 253 10 Herimoncourt, France: 
tel: (33) 81 30 90 30; fax: (33) 81 30 95 25. 



OBERHAUSEN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF 
SHORT FILMS, Apr. 30-May 6, Germany. FIVF 
will again work with Oberhausen this yr to collect 
preview cassettes and arrange for preselection by 
fest rep. Gunter Minas, who will be in NYC at 
FIVF's offices at end of January. Now in 38th yr, 
fest showcases innovative ind. & experimental short 
& doc. films of all genres. Competitive event, 
recognized by IFFPA. programs social doc, new 
developments in animation, experimental & short 
features, student films (esp. from film schools), 1st 
films & works from developing countries. Sections 
& int'l competition screens films only, up to 35 
min., completed after Jan. 1, 1990, German 
premieres. Beginning in 1993. videos also admitted 
to int'l comp. To incl. countries that ceased producing 
short film for financial reasons, fest is inviting 
videos for special programs (e.g., from Latin 
America). Awards: Grand Prize of Town of 
Oberhausen— 10.000DM; 4 Principal Prizes— 
2,000DM; Special Prizes— 1,000-5,000DM; 
Alexander Scotti prize to best film on "Old Age & 
Death" — 2.000DM; Best film on educational 
politics— 5.000DM; FIPRESCI Prize— 2.000DM; 
INTERFILM Prize— 2.000DM; DGB Prize— 
3.000DM. Special programs focus on commercial 
spots, including several retros from individual 
countries. Fest also incl. German Competition, retro, 
of film schools (focusing on NYU. Harvard & Cal 
Arts): 23rd Filmotheque of Youth & 15th Children's 
Cinema, which for first time will award prize of 
3,0O0DM. decided by jury of children. FIVF will 
consolidate shipment of tapes & return them to 
filmmakers after fest preview. Fest format: 35mm. 
16mm, super 8. We will preview on cassette only. 
For entry forms & info, send SASE to: Kathryn 
Bowser, FIVF, 625 Broadway. 9th fl.. New York, 
NY 10012; (212) 473-3400. Entry fee: $25 AIVF 



44 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



members, $30 nonmembers, payable to FIVF. 
Deadline: January 21. In Germany: Deadline: Mar. 
1 . Contact: Angela Haardt, fest director, 38 Inter- 
nationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Christian- 
Steger-Strasse 10, Postfach 101505, D-4200 
Oberhausen 1, Germany; tel: (208) 807008; fax: 
(208)852591. 

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL, June 7-21, Australia. 
Fest dir. Paul Byrnes will again visit FIVF in 
February to seek out US ind. work for fest's 39th yr. 
He is particularly looking for feature docs & shorts, 
preferably under 30 min. This major Australian 
film event is one of world's oldest fests. Noncom- 
petitive int'l program mixes features, shorts, docs & 
retros in selection of over 1 30 films from several 
countries. Many films shared w/ Melbourne Film 
Festival, which runs almost concurrently. Recently 
fest held 1st ChildrerTs Film Fest & is firming up 
dates for 1 992 children's program. Most Australian 
distribs & TV buyers attend fest, which has 
enthusiastic & loyal audience. Excellent opp. for 
publicity & access to Australian markets. Fest 
conducts audience survey, w/ results provided to 
participating filmmakers. Entries must be Australian 
premieres completed in previous yr. Fest pays 
roundtrip group shipment of selected films from 
FIVF office. Formats: 70mm, 35mm, 16mm; 
preview on 3/4", 1/2". Entry fee: $25 AIVF members, 
$30 nonmembers: payable to FIVF. Deadline: Jan. 
3 1 . For info & appl. , send S ASE or contact: Kathryn 
Bowser, FIVF, 625 Broadway, 9th fl., New York, 
NY 10012; (212)473-3400. Festival address: Paul 
Byrnes, festival director, Sydney Film Festival, 
Box 25, Glebe NSW 2037, Australia; tel: (02) 660- 
3844; fax: (02) 692-8793. 



FIVF THANKS 

The Foundation for Independent Video and 
Film (FIVF), the foundation affiliate of the 
Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers (AIVF), supports a variety of 
programs and services for the independent 
producer community, including publication 
of The Independent, maintenance of the 
Festival Bureau, seminars and workshops, 
an information clearinghouse, and a grant 
making program. None of this work would 
be possible without the generous support of 
the following agencies, foundations, and 
organizations: The New York State Council 
on the Arts; the National Endowment for the 
Arts, a federal agency; the John D. and 
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; the J. 
Roderick MacArthur Foundation; the 
Rockefeller Foundation; the Consolidated 
Edison Company of New York; the Beldon 
Fund; and the Funding Exchange. 



ANN ARBOR 

FILM FESTIVAL 

30TH ANNIVERSARY 

CONFERENCE 

March 1 3-1 6, 1992 

30 YEARS AND BEYOND: 

CELEBRATING THE 
INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER 

FEATURING: 

Major voices in independent film present- 
ing workshops and film exhibitions, and 
participating in panel discussions 

Open screenings for conference attendees 

A retrospective screening of awarded films 
from the past 29 years 




30TH ANN ARBOR 

FILM FESTIVAL 
CALL FOR ENTRIES 

March 17-22, 1992 

Entry fees for each film: 
$25 US entries, $30 foreign entries 

16mm independent and experimental 
films - all genre: documentary, anima- 
tion, narrative, and experimental 

Call or write for brochure 

(includes Conference registration form 

and Festival entry form): 

Ann Arbor Film Festival 

PO Box 8232 Ann Arbor, Ml 48107 

313/995-5356 

Deadline for Conference early 

registration and Film entry: 

February 15, 1992 



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CLASSIFIEDS 



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INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTOR SEEKS KM Ms 

programs to premiere at 2 large upcoming worldwide 
markets Contact Hal Lewis. ATA Trading Corp., 50 
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mini CONDITION Son) DXC-M3A video camera w/ 

FujinonTYZ. 1 2 \ 9 Berm lens. Broadcast quality. Must 
sell immediately. Make an otter. Julia (212) 724-9034 

SONY 3W EDITING PACKAGE: 1 Sony VO2860A edit 
recorder: 1 Sony VO 2600 edit player; 1 Sony RM 440 
edit controller: 2 JVC TM41 AU color monitors: 1 cart 
for pkg. Asking $3,000 or best offer. (718) 965-0268. 

DESKTOP VIDEO SYSTEMS. Affordable, complete hi- 
8/ S-VHS prod. & postprod. pkg. incl. state-of-the-an 
hi-8 camcorder w/ time code, editing VCR. computer & 
frame accurate decision list controller system. Install. 
train & support. Cliff (212) 285-1463. 

16MM ECLAIR NPR. perfect condition cable 5.4 NC 
motor Ruystal. 3-400' like brand new mags w/ cases, 
9.5-95 Angeniex zoom lens, motor zoom, tripod. Heud. 
filters, and extras. S4.200 or best offer. (212) 260-6666. 
Call Al & leave message. 

USED EQUIPMENT: Pro Video & Film specializes in 
quality used equip. 44 \rs exp. Money back guarantee. 
Quarterly catalog. We buy. sell, trade, consign, locate & 
appraise. Pro Video & Film Equipment Group. Dallas. 
(214) 869-001 1; fax: (214) 869-0145. 

FOR SALE: Panasonic AG 450 super VHS camcorder 
w/ character generator & carrying case. Toshiba 1200 
laptop computer w/ 20 megabyte hard disc. Best offer. 
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Preproduction 



FEATURE-LENGTH NARRATIVE SCRIPTS/treatments 

for low-budget prods sought by indie producers. Parti- 
cularly (but not exclusively) interested in scripts w/gay 
content. Send scripts to: Wayward Prods., Prince St. 
Station. Box 235, New York, NY 10012. 

SCREENWRITER WANTED: Witty, insightful, exper- 
ienced person to write script based on 20-page treatment 
& true story of sabotage, the defense industry & political 
activist. Have generated executive interest. Julie (212) 
334-0002. 

Freelancers 

WANTED: ARABIC SPEAKING ASSISTANT &/ or app- 
rentice editor for National Geographic documentary 
project. 1 6mm editing room experience required. Serious 
applicants should call Molly at (212) 721-0919. 

SCRIPTWRITER & CAMERAPERSON NEEDED by 

documentary videomaker for series on Hudson River. 
Screen credit given. Call & leave message at (21 2) 922- 
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NY 10017. 

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will analyze & critique your script. Find out what 
separates a "recommend" from a "pass." Serious inquiries 
only. (212)573-6468. 

AWARD-WINNING EDITOR available for your projects 
at a reasonable rate. (718) 388-2976. 



Each entry in the Classifieds column has a 
250-character limit & costs $20 per issue. 
Ads exceeding this length will be edited. 
Payment must be made at the time of 
submission. Anyone wishing to run a 
classified more than once must pay for 
each insertion & indicate the number of 
insertions on the submitted copy. Each 
classified must be typed, double-spaced 
& worded exactly as it should appear. 
Deadlines are the 8th of each month, two 
months prior to the cover date (e.g. 
February 8 for the April issue). Make 
check or money order — no cash, please — 
payable to FIVF, 625 Broadway, 9th floor, 
New York, NY 10012. 



HESSION-ZIEMAN PRODUCTIONS: Betacam & 
Betacam SP field prod, crew for docs, commercials, 
music videos, public relations, dance, etc. Sony B VW507 
camcorder w/ full lighting, sound & grip pkg. 
Experienced DP. (212) 529-1254. 

HL'SHPLPPIES & GRITS! Production manager in the 
Southeast. Worked from DC to Miami, know best crews, 
equip. & facilities, not to mention great restaurants & 
caterers. Laptop, portable office & printer ready to go. 
Phone & fax: (803) 799-4404. 

MOTION PICTURE CONSULTANT. Do you need help 
with your story, funding, technical crew? I can help get 
your movie idea out of your mind and into the theater. 
Call John for initial telephone discussion. (718) 389- 
9871. 

BETACAM SP AND HI-8 pkgs available w/ or w/out 
well-traveled documentary & network cameraman & 
crew. Ed Fabry (212) 387-9340. 

CUSTOM MUSIC FOR TV & RADIO: Creative composer/ 
producer will work w/in tight budgets & schedules. 
Electronic & acoustic music. DAT. or mixdown. Vocal- 
ists, voiceover talent, multitrack prod, avail. Call Sauna 
Studio (718) 229-4864. 

FILMBIZ, the only new sline offering networking oppor- 
tunities. 1-900-535-9595, ext. 668 ($2.00 per minute). 

ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY available at affordable 
rates to organize production co.; handle film financing: 
prepare/negotiate options & various agreements: copy- 
right disputes or registration. Free phone consult. Gary 
Kauffman. Esq. (212) 721-1621. 

SOUNDTRACK MUSIC: Exceptional quality at 
reasonable rates. Send S5.00 for cassette demonstrating 
wide scope of textures & styles. Virgil Avery. Phantom 
Productions, Box 507. Malvern, PA 19355: (215) 296- 
3541. 



TAX ACCOUNTANT experienced w/ freelancers. 
Knowledgable in NYC rent tax & NYS, NJ, PA, MA, 
CA taxation & sales tax. Call for a free newsletter. (2 1 2) 
727-9811. 

JACKOFALLTRADES for rent. I'm a prod, coordinator 
w/ doc. & industrial exp., a sound editor & recordist w/ 
feature credits, a DP w/ an Eclair NPR pkg. Familiar w/ 
numerous off-line systems. No, 1 don't do windows. 
Reel avail. Doug (212) 982-9609. 

THE SCREENPLAY DOCTOR & the Movie Mechanic: 
Professional story analysts/postprod. specialists will 
analyze your screenplay or treatment & evaluate your 
film-in-progress. Major studio & indie background. 
Reasonable rates. (212) 219-9224. 

MUSIC— EXPERIENCED COMPOSER/PRODUCER w/ 

fully equipped studio seeks film & video projects to 
score. Call T.K. Music (212) 956-3931. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY avail, for dramatic 16 
or 35mm productions of any length. Credits include 
Metropolitan. Call to see my reel. John Thomas (201) 
783-7360. 

BETACAM SP: Award-winning cameraman w/ BVW 
507 field pkg will work w/in your budget. Equip, pkg 
incl. Vinten tripod, DP kit. wide-angle lens, Neuman 
KMR8 1 , Lavs & Toyota 4-Runner. BVP7/B VW 35 pkg 
avail. & full postprod. services. Hal (201) 662-7526. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY w/ Aaton XTR pkg 
incl. Zeiss, Nikkor & video tap: avail, in Pacific 
Northwest. Camera can rent separately. Call Lars: (206) 
632-5496. 

BETACAM PKG (reg. or SP) w/ tripod, lights, mics, 
shotgun & van avail. Award-winning cameraman & 
crew avail. Fast & reliable. Broadcast quality. Call Eric 
(718)389-7104. 

CAMERAMAN w/ equip. Credits incl. 4 features (35 & 
16mm), news & doc (CBS, BBC. PBS), ads. industrials 
& music vids. 16mm & Betacam pkgs w/ lights, mics, 
crew & van. Strong visual sense. Personable & reasonable 
rates. Call for demo. Eric (718) 389-7104. 

PARIS IS BURNING-DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY 

avail, for docs, features, ads, rock vids. Own super 16 
capable Aaton pkg. Ask for reel — you'll like what you 
see. Call Paul (212) 475-1947. 

BETACAM SP & 3/4" prod, pkgs, incl. Vinten tripod, 
monitor, full lighting & audio wireless & car. 3/4" 
editing w/Chyron & digital effects. Video duplication to 
& from 3/4" & VHS. Call Adam (212) 319-5970. 

AWARD-WINNING CAMERAMAN w/ 1 6mm ACL II & 

Betacam looking for challenging projects. Partial client 
list: ABC Sports. IBM. LIRR. Pitney Bowes, Wilderness 
Society. Complete crews avail., incl. sound & grip pkgs. 
Reasonable rates. Mike (718) 352-1287. 

HOME OR ABROAD: Prod, company w/ int'l exp. fully 
outfitted w/ compact Sony hi-8 gear/film-style audio 
ready to work in far & distant lands. Can take your 
project from preprod. through the final edit. Call Dan 
(212)628-0178. 

STEADICAM for film & video. Special rates for inde- 
pendents. Call Sergei Franklin (212) 228-4254. 

BETACAM SP: Sony BVW 530. Satchler Video 20. 
Lowell Omni-kit. Sony mics, S450/day. Same but 3/4" 
SP or Betacam, $350/day. Ike 730A & BVU 1 10 w/ TC. 
S175/day. Betacam or 3/4" SP to 3/4" SP cuts w/ Amiga 
2000. S50/hr. Electronic Visions (212) 691-0375. 



46 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



HI-8 CAM PKG w/ experienced cameraperson: 3-chip 
Sony DXC-325/EVV-9000, full accessories incl. lights, 
mikes, mixer & LCD monitor. $550/day, shorter and 
longer rates negotiable. Call Robbie at (718) 783-8432. 

TOP FLIGHT COMPOSER w/ extensive prod, exper- 
ience, fluent in all styles, avail, for dramatic, doc, or 
commercial projects. Well-equipped Midi Studio. Call/ 
write for demo. Phil Rubin Music, 157 W. 57th Street 
#500, New York, NY 10019. (212) 956-0800. 

LOCATION SOUND RECORDIST w/ Sony digital recor- 
der & top quality mics. Reasonable rates. Call Todd 
Reckson (212) 995-2247. 

MUSIC & SOUND DESIGN: Independent composer, 
experienced, state-of-the-art equipment, available to 
score &/or design sound effects for your film/video 
production. Call Septicemic Productions (212) 685- 
0080. 



Postproduction 



BOB BRODSKY & TONI TREADWAY: Super 8 & 8mm 
film-to-video mastering w/scene-by-scene color correc- 
tion to 1", Betacam & 3/4". By appointment only. Call 
(617)666-3372. 

16MM EDITING ROOM for daily, weekly, or monthly 
rentals. 6-plate Steenbeck w/ fast rewind. Clean, safe, 
East Village, 24-hr access. Best rates in town. Call Su at 
(212) 475-7186 or (718) 782-1920. 

PRODUCTION/DISTRIBUTION company has two 
offices, a common area, off-line edit system & room 
available to rent on 57th Street. Negotiable. Please call 
(212) 581-0400. Ask for Lincoln. 

3/4" SP & S-VHS editing, straight cuts w/ time code, 
TBC, CG, waveform/vetroscope, $25/hr; toaster, $35/ 
hr. A/B roll avail. Hi-8 to 3/4" SP dubs w/ time code 
avail. Oz Films, Video Magic, 1 8th & 5th Avenue. (212) 
620-3832. Amex accepted. 

DAILIES IN SYNC DAILY: 16 or 35mm prepared over- 
night for coding or transfer to tape. Precision guaranteed. 
$30/400' (1,000') camera roll. Student rates & pick up/ 
delivery available. Call NY's only downtown dailies 
service (212) 431-9289. 

OFF-LINE in comfort & privacy w/ or w/out editor on a 
JVC hi-fi VHS system. Can make window dub transfers 
from Betacam, hi-8, or 3/4" to hi-fi VHS. Call Dan at 
EDITIT! (212)628-0178. 

TOTAL SUPER 8 SOUND film services. All S-8 prod.. 
postprod., editing, sync sound, mix, multitrack, single & 
double system sound editing, transfers, stills, striping, 
etc. Send SASE for rate sheet or call Bill Creston, 727 
6th Ave., New York, NY 10010; (212) 924-4893. 

SUPER OFF-LINE RATE: 2 Sony 3/4" w/ RM 450 edit 
controller, mixer, mic, $15/hr, $100/day, $400/wk. 
Midtown location, quiet, comfortable, private room. 
(212)997-1464. 

FOR RENT: Sony 5850 edit system, $400/week in home 
+ free funding consult! Hi-8 camera w/ award-winning 
shooter, $250/shoot. Want cobuyer for Betacam SP 
deck/cam. & Ike 79; comic writer, coproducer & intern 
for Ben & Jerry's TV special/book. (212) 727-8637. 

16MM EDITING ROOM & OFFICE space for rent in 
suite of indies. Fully equipped w/ 6-plate Steenbeck & 
24-hr access. All windowed & new carpet. Located at 
W. 24th St. & 7th Ave. Reasonable rates. Call Jeff at 
Film Partners (212) 714-2313. 



Betacam SP Camera Packages 

The latest Broadcast Camera Packages at great rates 
Sony BVW-400 lightweight Camcorders 

"Hyper- HAD" Chips, Canon 8.5 x 14 Zoom lens w/Matte Box, Sachtler 18 Tripod, 
VA-500 Playback Unit or BVW-35s w/Component 26 Pin Adapter 

Sony BVW-507 Camcorders 

Sachtler 18 Tripod, 8021 Monitor, 
VA-500 Playback Unit 



Sony BVP-7s & BVW-35s 

Sachtler 18 Tripod, 8021 Monitor 

Audio and Lighting Kits 




THE VIDEO TEAM, INC. 

Call (212) 629-8010 
124 W. 24th Street, NY, NY 10011 



Bfll STREET VIDEO, INC. (212)5947530 




■■■ I Introducing 


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PRODUCTION 


EDITING 


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• HI BAND 8(EVO9800) 
direct to 3/4"-$50/hr, 


• VHS copies from Hi8, 
VHS, 3/4" or Beta 






• SONY BETACAM SP 


w/effects $75/hr 








Top Quality/Low Price 
and now non-SP Beta 


• HI BAND 8 direct to 
Betacam-$75/hr, w/ 


• Hi8 to VHS burn in 
time code copies 






• SONY PRO HI 8 


effects +A/B-$90/hr 








DXC 325 Camera 


• BETA to BETA-$75/hr, 


• Beta, 3/4" & Hi8 






EVO 9000 Back 


w/effects-$90/hr 


timecode stripes 






Top Of The Line 


• PURE INTERFORMAT 


• Only High Grade 






• LOWEL LIGHT KITS 


Hi8, 3/4" or Beta to 


Stock Used 






Tota's/Omnis & "D's" 


Beta or 3/4" anytime 
• Included FREE: 


• Great Dubs, Great 






• PROFESSIONAL 


Fortel TBC w/full color 


Prices 






SOUND 


correct, High Res. 








Senhiser shotguns 


Char. Gen., Tascam 


• Extra Care Always 






Sony Lavalier's 


audio mix and more 


Taken 






Shure & EV handheld 


The VHS Room 


• PRIVATE EDITING 






• PROFESSIONAL 


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CLASSES are now 






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system and VHS 






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• Full Color Correct 


system 















100% COMPONENT VIDEO IMAfilNft = ; 

On-Line Betacam SP Editing $240/hr. 

GVG 141 Editor, (2) Sony BVW-65 PLayers w/Dynamic Tracking, Sony BVW-70 Recorder, (2) Fortel CC-2 Color Correctors, 
GVG 1 00 Switcher, Sierra ChromaKeyer, Digital F/X 200 3D Effects, Paint & Typography w/4:4:4:4 Component Digital Quality, 
Bencher M2 Stand W/Sony DXC-3000 Camera, Soundcraft 200-BVE Audio mixer, Orban Umiter/Compressor, DAT, CD, 
Cassette & Turntable, Couches, Cappuccino & Cool! 

Betacam SP Field Production $700/Day 

Sony BVW-200 Camcorder w/Nikon S15x8.5 Lens, Sachler Video 20 Tripod, Shure FP-31 Mixer, (3) Lowell DP Lights 
w/Umbrellas, Samson Wireless Mics, JVC TM-22 Monitor, Ford 4x4 Truck w/Phone. 

3/4" Off-Line Editing $30/hr. 

Sony 5800 PLayer, Sony 5850 Recorder, Sony RM-440 Editor, Fairlight CVI Effects, Cassette, Tascam Mixer. 

3/4" Field Production $450/Day 

Sony DXC-3O00 Camera w/Fujinon 12x Lens, Sony VO-6800 Deck, Bogen Tripod, JVC TM-22 Monitor, (3) Lowell DP Lights 
w/Umbrellas, Assorted Mics. 

Dv8video 738 Broadway, NYC 10003 212.529.8204 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 47 




Edit, Cut * Graphics 
212-369-3730 

TWO hours of Editing time 



3/4SP cape stock (VM (Cy 
VHS dub of completed work 



Synch ronicity 
Sound 

Digital Audio Workstation with 
Video & Film Lock up 

Full Sound Track Preparation & 
Editing 

Diaglogue, Effects, Music Editing 
& Sound Design 

Digital Production Recording 

Mixes 

Special rates for AIVF members 
& students 

192 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10001 

(212) 463-8845 



On 'Line, Off 'Line Edit 



5 Edit Suites for On-line, Off-line 
1" A/B, BetaCam SP A/B, 3 / 4 " A/B 
Grass Valley 200-2 Switcher 



Sony BVE 9000 Edit Controller 
Abekas A- 53D 

C/wron iNFiNiV. 



Camera Rental 



Ikegami HL-55A CCD, HL-95B, 
HL-79D Cameras with on Board or 
portable Beta Cam SP deck 



Sony Wireless Mic 
Lowel Light Kits 
Sachtler 20 11 Tripod 



And More 

I6mm Film -to -Tape One- Light Transfers 
Super Low Rate PAL-SECAM-'NTSC 
VHS Conversion 

SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR 

INDEPENDENT PRODUCERS 

AND STUDENTS 





Ross Gaffney Video 

21 West 46th Street, 4th Floor 

New York, NY 10036 / FAX: (212) 827-0426 

Telephone: (212) 997-1464 



16MM CUTTING ROOMS: 8-plate & 6-plate fully 
equipped rooms, sound transfer facilities, 24-hr access. 
Downtown, near all subways & Canal St. Reasonable, 
negotiable rates. (2 12) 925-1500. 

COZY & CHEAP: 3/4" off-line editing room w/ new 
Sony 5850, 5800, RM440. $500/week for a 5-day week. 
24-hr access, midtown location. Call Jane at (2 1 2) 929- 
4795 or Deborah at (212) 226-2579. 

NEW M ATCHBACK: 3/4" SPTC editing w/ Sony 9800, 
9850 & RM 450: $ 1 2/hr, $ 100/day , $500/wk. Film room 
w/KEM 6-plate (35mm, 1 6mm, or S-8). Sound transfers 
w/ Dolby SR to 16 or 35 mag, $25/hr. Call (212) 685- 
6283. 

BARGAIN VHS OFF-LINE: $10/hr rate w/ JVC system, 
private, airy room in comfortable home-office suite, 
accessible Park Slope, Brooklyn location. Experienced 
editor also available. Call Robbie at (718) 783-8432. 

NEGATIVE MATCHING: 16 or 35mm. 40 years exper- 
ience, all work guaranteed! Will beat any competitor's 
price. Video matchback to the AVID 1 Composer. 
Northeast Negative Matchers, Inc. (413) 736-2177 or 
(800) 370-CUTS. 

SUPER 8MM FILM-TO-VIDEO transfer. To 1 " , Beta, hi- 
8. 3/4", VHS. Slo-mo. freeze, toaster EFX also. Standard 
8, slides, 16mm. Broadcast quality, low rates, per-sonal 
service. Super 8 camera rental & music cinema-tography . 
Landy vision (914) 679-7046. 

S-VHS, 1/2" VHS industrial editing decks for rough cuts 
& dubs. Also. Alta Cygnus TBC w/ special effects & 
Amiga computer w/graphics capability, $15/hr. Private, 
quiet facility in Greenwich Village. Call Bob (2 1 2) 473- 
7462. 

OFF-LINE AT HOME! Will rent 2 Sony 5850s w/RM440 
or RM450 edit controller & monitors. Low monthly 
rates, $650/week. Answer your own phone & cut all 
night if you like! John (212) 245-1364 or 529-1254. 



Classifieds Do Pay! 

"I get a few calls a week 

from my classified adL 

If only one call works, 

it's worth way more 

than 20 bucks. 

It works!" 

Eric Lau, cameraman 



Try Your Ad in We Independent. 



Show and Tell. 

Back issues of The Independent are 

available to professors for classroom 

distribution free of charge. 

Contact AIVF: (212) 473-3400. 



48 THE INDEPENDENT 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



Conferences ■ Seminars 

INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC TELEVISION SCREENING 
CONFERENCE (INPUT) to be held May 24-30, 1992 at 
the Omni Hotel, Baltimore, MD. Contact: Clyde Maybee, 
coordinator or Dorothy Petersen, executive producer, 
Maryland Public Television, 11767 Owings Mills 
Boulevard, Owings Mills, MD 21 1 17; (301 ) 526-0635; 
fax: (301) 356-9334. Training grant deadline Jan. 15. 
Contact: Sandie Pedlow, national coordinator, US INPUT 
Secretariat, 27 1 2 Millwood Ave., Columbia, SC 29205. 

Films ■ Tapes Wanted 

ASIAN CINE VISION, NY-based media arts center, 
seeks entries for Videoscape: An Asian American Video 
Showcase. Works must be originally produced on video, 
subtitled if not in English & by artists of Asian heritage. 
Deadline: Jan. 15. Contact: Videoscape, Asian Cine 
Vision, 32 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002; (212) 
925-8685; fax: (212) 925-8157. 

CINEMA GUILD seeks new docs, TV programs & 
special interest videos in a variety of subject areas. 
Contact: Cinema Guild, 1697 Broadway, New York, 
NY 10019; (212) 246-5522. 

EYE is seeking entries for a weekly cable series on 
Manhattan Cable Channel 35. All genres accepted. 
Deadline: Feb. 17. For entry forms, contact: Eye, c/o 
Speedin' Demon Entertainment, Box 1998, New York, 
NY 10013-1998; or call (212) 713-5460. 

THE FORUM GALLERY seeks work in any medium for 
exhibition on an ideal socio/political reality. All work 
received will be displayed if possible. Exhibition catalog 
will be published. Deadline: Feb. 21. Contact: Forum 
Gallery, Jamestown Community College, 525 Falconer 
St., Jamestown. NY 14701; (716) 665-9107. 

IV-TV, weekly Seattle cable program, seeks work in all 
genres by video-oriented indivs. Contact: John 
Goodfellow or David P. Moore, IV-TV, 2010 Minor E. 
Suite B, Seattle, WA 98102; (206) 633-4773. 

NATIONAL MEDIA AWARDS seeks to reward out- 
standing projects on the elderly. Prizes from $500 to 
$5,000. Entries must be produced in US & released or 
broadcast between Jan. 1 & Dec. 31, 1991. Deadline: 
Feb. 4. Contact: Center for New Television, 1440 N. 
Dayton, Chicago, IL 60622; (312) 915-6868. 

NORTH AMERICAN OUTDOOR FILM/VIDEO 
AWARDS, 30-yr-old int'l contest, seeks entries in cats: 
Conservation/Natural History & Recreation/Promotion. 
Send 16mm, 3/4", or 1/2" & $50 entry fee by Jan. 2 1 to: 
Bob Dennie, committee chair, Louisiana Department of 
Conservation, 2000 Quail Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70898; 
(814)234-1011. 

PEOPLE TV/CABLE NETWORKS' Your 15 Minutes 
"R" Up seeks work from video- & filmmakers living on 
the southeastern & eastern seaboard. Contact: Mikel K., 
Your 15 Minutes "R" Up, 1146 Portland Ave., SE, 
Atlanta, GA 30316; (404) 622-2740. 

PORT JEFFERSON VILLAGE CINEMA seeks feature- 
length docs or short films on censorship for fall 1992 
program. Contact: Myma Lee Gordon, Box 191, Port 
Jefferson, NY 1 1777; (516) 473-0136. 

PRIMETIME PUBLIC TV SERIES seeks films & tapes 
by independent media artists. All genres & styles accept- 
ed. Deadline: Jan. 15, 1992. For appl. contact Elly 
Schull, (215)483-3900. Through the Lens, WYBE-TV 



Notices are listed free of charge. AIVF 
members receive first priority; others are 
included as space permits. The Inde- 
pendent reserves the right to edit for 
length. Deadlines for Notices will be 
respected. These are the 8th of the month, 
two months prior to cover date (e.g., 
January 8 for the March issue). Send to: 
Independent Notices, FIVF, 625 Broadway, 
New York, NY 10012. 



35, 61 17 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19128. 

THE SHOOTING GALLERY is accepting submissions 
for short film/video cable series. All genres accepted. 
Chosen entries' directors will be briefly interviewed on 
air. Send 3/4" or VHS tapes w/ SASE to: the Shooting 
Gallery, 359 Broadway, 2nd fl., New York, NY 10013; 
(212)966-0776. 

TRICOASTAL FILMS seeks short films by women for 
possible broadcast. All genres accepted. Send VHS 
copy to: L. Bernhardt, TriCoastal Films, 3 Sheridan 
Square, New York, NY 10014. 

SCRIPT SUBMISSIONS SOUGHT for Nate Monaster 
Memorial Writing Competition. Winners receive paid 
internship w/ LA TV program. Scripts for half-hour 
comedy, 1 -hour drama, or TV movie. Deadline: Jan. 10. 
Contact: Nate Monaster Memorial Writing Competition, 
University Film & Video Association, Loyola 
Marymount Univ., Communication Arts Department, 
Loyola Blvd. & W. 80th St., Los Angeles, CA 90045; 
(310)338-1855. 

Opportunities ■ Gigs 

CUMMINGTON COMMUNITY OF THE ARTS offers 
private residencies of two weeks to three months & 
space for workshops, retreats & group residencies to 
artists of all disciplines. Deadline for July & Aug.: Apr. 
1. Contact: Cummington Community of the Arts, RR 1, 
Box 145, Cummington, MA 01026; (413) 634-2172. 

DIRECTOR OF MEDIA EDUCATION AND TRAINING 

sought by Film/Video Arts to design curriculum, hire, 
supervise, administer scholarships & evaluate part-time 
instructors. Req: previous media education, combined 
w/ prod, skills in film &/or video. Salary: $23,500- 
$27,000. Send resume to: Film/Video Arts, 8 1 7 Broad- 
way, New York, NY 10003-4797; (212) 673-9361. 

DOCUMENTARY VIDEO PROJECT IN LEBANON seeks 
individuals & groups interested in participating in prod. 
Video equipment & editing facilities avail, to people in 
Lebanon interested in filming their own short narratives, 
docs & home movie projects. Contact: Jayce Salloum, 
1 1 Rivington St. #2, New York, NY 1 0002; (212)982- 
8967, or Walid Ra'ad, c/o Ghanem Ra'ad, rue Amine 



Gemayel, Imm. Ghorra 5th fl., Beirut, Lebanon; tel: 
398-635. 

EQUIPMENT MANAGER sought by Film/Video Arts. 
Req: strong technical & managerial skills. Salary: 
$20,000-$25,000. Send resumes to: Film/Video Arts, 
8 17 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4797; (212) 673- 
9361. 

FILM/VIDEO ARTS seeks experienced editors for Video 
Fine Edit service. Salary: $15/hr. No guaranteed mini- 
mum & no additional benefits promised. Must be familiar 
w/ Convergence 195 controller. Grass Valley 100 
switcher & Chyron VP2 character generator. Send resume 
& reels to: Fred Hatt, director of operations, Film/Video 
Arts, 817 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4797; (212) 
673-9361. 

INTERNSHIPS avail, at Film/Video Arts. 15 hrs/wk in 
exchange for free media classes, equip. & facilities. 
Req: plan for an ind. project in film or video. Contact: 
Angie Cohn, Film/Video Arts, 817 Broadway, New 
York, NY 10003-4797; (212) 673-9361. 

MAINE PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOPS seeks general 
manager of retail, mail order & commercial operation & 
general manager. 1 st position requires 6 yrs experience 
in photo retailing &/or lab management. 2nd position 
requires experience in running educational or arts org. 
Contact: Maine Photographic Workshops, Rockport, 
ME 04856. 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF TEACHERS OF ENGLISH 

seeks model lessons for teaching w/ or about media 
(incl. TV, film & video). Indivs will be invited to give 
presentation at Conference on Media Language Arts, 
Jun. 25-28 at Univ. of Pennsylvania. Send outline for 
45-min. lesson followed by 45-min. discussion w/ 
description of materials & student activities. Deadline: 
Jan. 1 5. Contact: John Garvey, NCTE, 1111 Kenyon Rd, 
Urbana, IL 61801. 

NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART seeks edu- 
cation asst. & planning & development director. Send 
resume & cover letter to: managing director. New 
Museum of Contemporary Art, 583 Broadway, New 
York, NY 10012. 

OHIO UNIVERSITY'S School of Film seeks asst professor 
for tenure-track position. Teach grad. & undergrad. 
courses in 1 6mm film prod., advise MFA students, serve 
on school committees. Req.: MFA teaching exp., 
demonstration of professional/creative work. Salary: 
$30,000-$32,000 beg. Sept. 1, 1992. Deadline: Jan. 15. 
Contact: David Thomas, director. School of Film, Ohio 
Univ., 378 Lindley Hall, Athens, OH 45701 ; (614) 593- 
4229. 

RESIDENCIES FOR VIDEO ARTISTS offered by Lila 
Wallace-Reader's Digest for 3 to 6-months at sites 
throughout world. Artists share experiences w/ 
communities upon return. Appls jointly submitted by 
artist & organization to sponsor community activities. 
Deadline: Jan. 17. Contact: Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest 
International Artists, Arts International; (2 1 2) 984-5370. 

SCHOOLOFTHE ART INSTITUTE OFCHICAGO seeks 

asst/assoc. professor in video, tenure-track. Duties incl.: 
teach basic video prod., video strategies, grad. projects 
classes, develop new classes, alternate as department 
chair. Req: MFA or equiv., teaching exp., exhibition, 
prod. exp.. competency in theory. Send letters of appl., 
teaching philosophy, video portfolio w/ descriptions, 
reviews, resume & 3 recs. Deadline: Feb. 26. Contact: 
Susan Cornier, Divisional Chairs Office. School of the 
Art Institute of Chicago, 37 S. Wabash. Chicago, IL 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 49 



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Archival: Behind the Scenes Hollywood History. Quality Movie Clips from the Turn of the 

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Research Service with Access to the Rarest of Film Collections and Libraries. 

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60603; (312)443-3772. 

1 N I VERSITY OF THE ARTS seeks animator to fill full- 
time tenure track position. Rank & salary commensurate 
w/exp. Send resume, work samples, statement of teaching 
philosophy & 3 names. Deadline: Mar. 16. Contact: 
Alida Fish. Photo/Film/Animation Dept., The Univ. of 
the Arts. Phila College of Art & Design, 333 S. Broad 
St.. Philadelphia. PA 19102. 

I MVERSITYOFCALIFORNIAATIRVTNEseeks inter- 
media artist for tenure-track ass't professor position. 
Req: MFA or equiv., some teaching exp. & ability to 
work in intermedia or public an directions. Beg. Sept. 
1992. Deadline: Feb. 3. Send vitae. statement of teaching 
philosophy & adequate representation of production, w/ 
3 refs & SASE mailer to: Catherine Lord, chair. Dept of 
Studio Art, Univ. of California, Irvine, CA 92717. 

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON seeks asst/ 
assoc. professor of video prod. Tenure-track. Beg. Sept. 
1992. Req.: teaching & professional exp.: in ind. doc., 
narrative &/or experimental prod.: knowledge of 
contemporary art & media; terminal degree or equivalent. 
Salary competitive. Deadline: Jan. 15. Send vitae, tapes, 
reviews & articles, catalog, names of 3 refs & SASE to: 
Video Search Committee. Dept of Art & Art History, 
Univ. of Texas at Arlington. Box 19089. Arlington. TX 
76019: (817)273-2891. 

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN seeks asst. pro- 
fessor of interactive multimedia &/or industry analysis 
& lecturer in film TV screenwriting. Deadline: Jan. 10. 
Contact: Search Committees. Department of Radio- 
Television-Film. CMA 6.118, University of Texas at 
Austin. Austin, TX 78712-1091; (512) 471-4071; fax: 
(512)471-4077. 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ seeks 

assoc. professor in video/film theory, aesthetics & history. 
Salary: S35.900-S38.000. Req: PhD in relevant 
discipline: expertise in video/TV studies; demonstrated 
ability to teach large lecture courses & small seminars. 
Send curriculum vitae. letter outlining teaching interests, 
syllabi for previous video/TV courses, writing sample, 
dissertation abstract & teaching evaluations if available 
to: Search Committee. Theater Arts Board. University 
of California. Santa Cruz. CA 95064. 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ seeks 1 - 
yr replacement to teach critical studies in film (2 large 
intra, courses, silent film, film theory & film genre 
class). Salary to S45.000. Req: PhD in Cinema Studies 
or related discipline: exp. in teaching film at under- 
graduate level; publication record & proof of teaching. 
Deadline: Jan. 15. Send vitae, 3 letters of rec, course 
syllabi, sample of publications & teaching evaluations if 
available to: Search Committee, Theater Arts, Univ. of 
Southern California. Santa Cruz. CA 95064. 

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA seeks assoc. 
professor/professor to chair Visual Arts Department. 
12-month tenure-track position. Req: MA. MFA. PhD 
or equiv. in Art or Art History: ability to lead dept. of 22 
faculty: must be active artist/art historian. Deadline: 
Jan. 15. Send letter of appl.. resume, statement of educa- 
tional philosophy, art samples & 3 letters of rec. to: Lou 
Marcus, search chair. Univ. of S Florida. College of Fine 
Arts Personnel. FAH 110. Tampa. FL 33620-7350: 
(813)974-2301. 

Resources ■ Funds 

APPALSHOP seeks proposals from ind. film- & 
videomakers living in AL. FL. GA. KY. LA. MS. NC. 

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



I 



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Filmmakers, you're doing something for yourself — and for 
others. Membership entitles you to a wide range of benefits. 
Plus, it connects you with a national network of independent 
producers. Adding your voice helps us all. The stronger ATVT 
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tivals, and can help you determine 
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ison Service 

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er cases serving as the U.S. host to 
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oe Library 

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SEMINARS 

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MORE TO COME 

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SC, TN & VA for Southeast Media Fellowship pro- 
gram. Deadline: Feb. 3. Contact: SEMFP Appalshop, 
306 Madison St., Whitesburg, KY 41858; (606) 633- 
0108. 

CHICAGO RESOURCE CENTER funds nonprofit les- 
bian & gay orgs advocacy efforts & occasionally media 
projects. Contact: Chicago Resource Center, 53 West 
Jackson Blvd., Suite 3 15, Chicago, IL 60604; (3 12) 461- 
9333. 

EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION CENTER offers $500 
finishing funds for electronic art works. Deadline: March 
15. Contact: Sherry Miller Hocking, program director, 
Experimental Television Center Ltd., 180 Front St., 
Owego, NY 13827; (607) 687-4341. 

FLORIDA CULTURAL GRANTS: Discipline-based 
funding for arts & non-arts orgs & indiv. artist fellow- 
ships for 10/1/92-9/30/93 grant period. Deadline: Jan. 
17. Contact: Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Dept 
of State, the Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250; (904) 
487-2980. 

INDEPENDENT TELEVISION SERVICE (ITVS) offers 
funding to ind. producers for single projects in all 
genres. Deadline: Mar. 16. For guidelines & appls 
contact: ITVS, Box 75455, St. Paul, MN 55175; (612) 
225-9035. 

MANHATTAN COMMUNITY ARTS FUND supports 
community-based arts orgs that do not have access to 
gov't funding. Indiv. artists living in Manhattan may 
apply under aegis of qualified org. Max. grant: $3,000. 
Contact: Katie McDonnell, program coordinator; (212) 
432-0900. 

MISSISSIPPI ARTS COMMISSION offers Artists Fel- 
lowship Program in screenwriting & interdisciplinary 
art forms. Deadline: March 1 . Contact: Mississippi Arts 
Commission, 239 N. Lamar St., Suite 207, Jackson, MS 
39201; (601) 359-6030. 

NATIONAL ASIAN-AMERICAN TELECOMMUNI- 
CATIONS ASSOCIATION accepting appls for 1992 
media grants of up to $25,000. All film & video genres 
accepted. Deadline: Feb. 14. Contact: NAATA/1992 
Media Grants, 346 Ninth St., 2nd fl., San Francisco, CA 
94103; (415) 863-0814. 

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF MEDIA ARTS CENTERS' 

1992 Media Arts Fund offers grants from $3,000 to 
$15,000 to support exhibition, artist services, distrib., 
artist-in-residencies, media education, marketing, 
management assistance, collaborations, or general 
operating support. Deadline: Feb. 14. Contact: Mimi 
Zarsky , NAMAC, 480 Potrero. San Francisco, CA 94 1 1 0: 
(415)861-0202. 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ARTISTS' ORGAN- 
IZATIONS' Multi Site Collaborations Program awards 
grants to visual artists' orgs from approx. $5,000 to 
$25,000/project. Deadline: April 20. For guidelines 
contact: N AAO, 9 1 8 F St., NW, Washington, DC 20004; 
(202) 347-6350. 

NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS deadline 
for production & organizational grants: Mar. 1. 
Applications available in Jan. Contact: NYSCA, 915 
Broadway, New York, NY 10010; (212) 387-7004 in 
NY; (800) GET- ARTS all other states. 

THE POLLOCK-KRASNER FOUNDATION has grants 
avail, to mixed media artists from $1,000 to $25,000. 
Contact: The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. 725 Park 
Ave., New York, NY 10021. 



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992 



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IWEPEWENr 



23rd Sinking Creek Film/Video Festival 

Call for 16 mm Film & 3/4" 
U-matic Video Entries 






$8,000 in Cash Awards 



Deadline April 15 
Festival - June 6-13 Nashvi 



Lville 



a arti 



These media artists won cash awards at SCFVF '91. 
How about you in '92? 

Alcove in The Palazzo Rosso by J. Herbert. All My Relations by J. Priestly, 
Amazonia by F. Hubley. Applejuice by J. Bruce. Begin Here by F. Miller. The Blank 
Point by X.Y. Wang. Chemical Valley by M. Pickering & A. Johnson. .4 Child's 
Dream by D. Ehrlich. Christo in Paris by Maysles Films; Dangerous Music by D. 
Shreeve. A Day In My Life Blues by E. Midgett. Down Around Here by D. 
Southerland. Edward by J. Jackson & T. Sweeney, Fat Monroe by A. S. Garrison, 
Filter Gallery by E. Darnell. Flight Over Stone by L. Loeb/K.Yannatos. 
Frankenstein (Phases of Interpretation) by R. Russett. Gallery 3 by J. Engel, Gifts 
In Broca's Area by D. Bailey. Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice by W. Greaves, 
Invasion in Panama by B. Trent. Marc and Ann by L. Blank/M. Gosling/C. Simon. 
Mark DeSuvero: Reve des Signes by D. Van Dall. Maxwell's Demon by J. Duesing. 
The N'ight They Drove Dixie Down by S. Moore, Occupational Hazard by E. Daniel. 
Open territory by D. Cuny/P. Falkenberg, Oreos With Attitude by L. Carty. Outisde 
the Lucky by B. R. Schwartz, Photocopy Cha Cha by C. White. Recovering Silver 
by K. Kennedy. The Rough South by G. Hawkins. Short of Breath by J. Rosenblatt. 
Six Point Nine by D. Bootzin. Sometimes the Metro Bus Doesn't Stop For Me by T. 
Amidei. S.O.S. Stories of Survival by J. Petzall. Stone Paintings by D. Tucker. Thank 
You Masked Man by R. Hanson. Theodore Melbridge: The Silent Genius by J. 
Mclntyre/J. Moynihan. 

Please write for entry forms and procedures 

Sinking Creek Film/Video Festival 

Meryl Truett. Executive Director 

402 Sarratt Student Center. Vanderbilt University 

Nashville. TN 37240 

(615)322-2471 



MARCH 1992 

VOLUME 15, NUMBER 2 



Publisher: 

Editor: 

Managing Editor: 

Contributing Editors: 



Editorial Assistant: 

Production Staff: 

Art Director: 

Advertising: 

National Distributor: 

Printer: 



Martha Gever 
Patricia Thomson 
Ellen Levy 
Kathryn Bowser 
Janice Drickey 
Mark Nash 
Barbara Osborn 
Karen Rosenberg 
Catherine Saalfield 
Toni Treadway 
Troy Selvaratnam 
Jeanne Brei 
Christopher Holme 
Laura D. Davis 
(212)473-3400 
Bernhord DeBoer 
(201)667-9300 
PetCap Press 



2 THE INDEPENDENT 



The Independent is published 1 times yearly by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. (FIVF), 
625 Broadway, 9th floor, New York, NY 10012, (212) 
473-3400, a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational 
foundation dedicated to the promotion of video and film, 
and by the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, Inc. (AIVF), the national trade association of 
independent producers and individuals involved in 
independent video and film. Subscription is included with 
membership in AIVF. Together FIVF and AIVF provide a 
broad range of educational and professional services for 
independents and the general public. Publication of The 
Independent is made possible in part with public funds 
from the New York State Council on the Arts and the 
National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 
The Independent welcomes unsolicited manu- 
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Letters to The Independent should be addressed to 
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All contents are copyright of the Foundation for 
Independent Video and Film, Inc. Reprints require written 
permission and acknowledgement of the article's 
previous appearance in The Independent. ISSN 
0731-5198. The Independent is indexed in the 
Alternative Press Index. 

Z Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. 1992 

AIVF/FIVF STAFF MEMBERS: Martha Gever, executive 
director; Kathryn Bowser, administrative/festival bureau 
director; Anne Douglass, seminar/membership director, 
Mei-Ling Poon, bookkeeper; Stephanie Richardson, admin- 
istrative assistant; Anissa Rose, programs assistant. 

AIVF/FIVF BOARDS OF DIRECTORS: Eugene 
Aleinikoff, * Skip Blumberg, Charles Burnett, Christine 
Choy, Dee Davis (vice president), Loni Ding (secretary), Lisa 
Frigand,* Adrianne B. Furniss,* Martha Gever (ex officio), 
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (chair), Jim Klein, Regge Life,* Tom 
Luddy, * Lourdes Portillo, Robert Richter (president), Steve 
Savage,* James Schomus, Barton Weiss, Chuck 
Workman,* Debra Zimmerman (treasurer). 

* FIVF Board of Directors only 

MARCH 1992 







12 




COVER: Women take center stage in 
this special issue of The Independent. 
Yvonne Welbon looks at African 
American women directors who have 
been largely ignored by Hollywood but 
are breaking professional barriers and 
broadening black cinema's style and 
content. Elizabeth Larsen looks at video 
collectives working on reproductive 
rights campaigns, and performance 
artist Carolee Schneemann reflects on 
sex and censorship at the Moscow Film 
Festival. Also included are reports on 
AFI's Directing Workshop for Women, 
Rve Feminist Minutes, and director/ 
cinematographer Emiko Amori. Photo: 
Zeinabu irene Davis' Cycles, courtesy 
Women Make Movies. 



FEATURES 

1 8 Calling the Shots: Black Women Directors Take the Helm 

by Yvonne Welbon 

23 Notes from the Underground: A Feminist Pornographer in 
Moscow 

by Carolee Schneemann 

26 Our Bodies/Our Camcorders: Video and Reproductive Rights 

by Elizabeth Larsen 

4 MEDIA CLIPS 

Ranting and Rating: Fort Worth Gives Thumbs Down to Local 
Film Ratings Board 

by Patricia Thomson 

No Free Dub at the National Archives 

by Pat Aufderheide 

USIA Bias Barred 

by Wendy Leavens 

Monkey See, Monkey Do 

by Laurie Ouellette 

Airwave Robbery? 

by Ellen Levy 

And the Winners Are... 
Sequels 

12 FIELD REPORTS 

Women's Work: AFI's Directing Workshop for Women 

by Barbara Osborn 

Short Circuit: Canada's Five Feminist Minutes Meets 
Distribution Difficulties 

by Catherine Saalfield 

30 TALKING HEADS 

A Huge Country Full of Foreigners: Emiko Omori's Hot Summer 
Winds 

by Lucille Rhodes 

34 FESTIVALS 

by Kathryn Bowser 

36 CLASSIFIEDS 

40 NOTICES 

44 MEMORANDA 



MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 3 



■■ 



RANTING AND RATING 

Fort Worth Gives Thumbs Down to Local Film Ratings Board 



Last summer, a group of 200 citizens filed into the 
chambers of a bewildered Fort Worth city council 
and asked to be put on the agenda. Housewife 
Debbi Dena. the group's spokesperson and former 
president of the local chapter of the American 
Family Association (AFA). had come to city hall 
to present a 15-page ordinance for Fort Worth 
entitled Motion Picture and Videotape Classifica- 
tion. The proposed bill was intended create a 
politically appointed local ratings board to review 
all films exhibited and rented in Fort Worth the- 
aters and home video stores. 



tion and American Civil Liberties Union, and a 
citizen's group headed by Rabbi Ralph Mecklen- 
burger. They quickly marshalled their forces in 
opposition, remembering how private pressure 
groups in Fort Worth succeeded in banning The 
Last Temptation of Christ and even bumping 
Geraldo from an afternoon to a late-night time 
slot. 

Fort Worth ordinance supporters insist their 
proposal originated locally, but most observers 
believe the right-wing National Association of 
Ratings Boards (NARB) was the real author and 
catalyst. NARB was created in November 1 990 at 



The first film to receive an 

NC- 1 7 rating, Henry and 

June is the sort of cinema 

ratings boards love to hate. 

Courtesy Universal City Studios 




As a piece of test case legislation, its ripple 
effect could have been tremendous. But after 
months of contentious debate, the bill was stopped 
in its tracks. The Fort Worth mayor's specially 
appointed task force dropped the ordinance in 
January after the mayor's counsel found it uncon- 
stitutional. They instead issued a resolution urg- 
ing theater and video store owners to enforce the 
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) 
ratings system already in place. 

Although this is a decided victory for the film 
industry and free speech advocates, the contest in 
Texas may be a harbinger of battles to come, 
should right-wing pressure groups press ahead 
with similar ordinances in other parts of the coun- 
try, as they've promised. 

The outcome in Fort Worth owes much to the 
lobbying efforts of the film and home video indus- 
tries, supported by People for the American Way, 
local chapters of the American Library Associa- 



a conference attended by AFA, Morality in Me- 
dia, and a dozen or so other right-wing pressure 
groups — all smarting from their recent defeat in 
the battle with the MPAA over the new NC-17 
rating category [see "The X Effect: Distributors 
Challenge MPAA Rating," November 1990]. 

Although its staff is small (NARB is essentially 
two men with a newsletter: Thomas Radecki, 
chair of the Champaign, Illinois-based National 
Coalition of Television Violence, and Ted Baehr, 
chair of Good News Communications, based in 
Atlanta), the group has big plans. They aim not 
only to establish local ratings boards, but ulti- 
mately to influence the nature of films produced. 
As the inaugural issue of NARB News states, the 
organization seeks to "shift profits away from 
films with harmful content.. .pressure the movie 
industry to increase the number of pro-social 
movies, and protect children from movies and 
videotapes that may be detrimental to their psy- 



chological and spiritual health." 

"The NARB has a play-by-play book for get- 
ting legislation passed," says MPAA director of 
state affairs Vans Stevenson, "and what the people 
in Fort Worth have done is right out of that 
playbook." The language of the Fort Worth ordi- 
nance is "virtually identical" to that of the NARB' s 
boilerplate ordinance, Stevenson observes. Fur- 
ther establishing the link, Radecki and Baehr 
testifed at the Fort Worth hearings on the ordi- 
nance in September. 

The ratings board, as described in the ordi- 
nance, would comprise up to 26 members ap- 
pointed by city council, with six sufficient for a 
quorum. The board would screen each film — at 
the distributor's expense — and rate it as suitable 
for young persons, not suitable, or prohibited to 
young persons, and may attach the following 
symbols: C for "criminal activity depicted with- 
out the express portrayal of significant adverse 
legal, physical, emotional, or societal conse- 
quences;" D for illegal drug use; L for "obscene 
language or language used to describe sexual 
conduct, defecation, urination, or genitals;" N for 
nudity; P for "a perverse person such as a masoch- 
ist, sadist, pederast, or other aberrant sexual per- 
son;" S for sexual conduct "or implicit sexual 
conduct;" and V for "serious bodily injury to a 
person or animal... [or] serious damage to or de- 
struction of property." 

Unlike the MPAA ratings system, which is 
voluntary and overseen by the industry, the Fort 
Worth ordinance would have been law. Misde- 
meanor charges could be filed against exhibitors, 
distributors, and employees who show, rent, show 
a preview for, or advertise a film without a local 
rating. Children under 1 7 viewing or renting films 
deemed "not suitable" or "prohibited" would be 
committing a legal offense. Video stores would be 
subject to misdemeanor charges and $200 fines 
for not posting a warning sign every 500 square 
feet reading, "Public Service Message: Extensive 
research finds violent or sexually degrading en- 
tertainment may have harmful unconscious ef- 
fects on children and adult viewers." 

Gail Markels, MPAA vice president and coun- 
sel, contends that, "The ordinance is so broad it 
exceeds what courts have said a town can regu- 
late. They look at violence, drugs, property dam- 
age. It goes way beyond the Miller obscenity test." 

The NARB and advocates of the ordinance 
made much of the fact that Dallas has a local 
ratings board, which they claim is constitutional. 
Although it rates only theatrical films, not home 



4 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



videos, it was held up as a precedent and model for 
Fort Worth. But Markels counters, "To say it's 
constitutional is a misstatement, because every 
time a federal court has looked at it, they've said 
'no.'" However, each time the courts struck it 
down, Dallas city officials simply made minor 
changes and reinstated it. Faced with this re- 
sponse, the industry periodically resorts to suing 
over the rating of individual films. 

Ordinance proponents said they were just try- 
ing to protect the children. But what most fueled 
the ire of Fort Worth citizens was the ordinance's 
usurpation of parental authority. According to the 
American Library Association's Betty Brink," You 
can't always get people stirred up about the First 
Amendment, but you can get parents stirred up 
about people imposing their views about what 
they should be doing as parents. The argument 
about protecting the children turned on [the 
proposal's advocates] a little." 

From the film industry's point of view, the 
ordinance would have presented an economic and 
logistical nightmare. Well over 400 films are 
released each year by the studios and independent 
distributors. An equivalent number go each month 
to home video stores. Having a local ratings board 
review all this material, Markels asserts, "would 
clearly disrupt the distribution process by delay- 
ing the opening of the films and videos." 

At best, an additional review would bog down 
the distribution process. At worst, studios may 
choose to forego a local release rather than hassle 
with the delays, the expense, and the revised ads. 
Paul Weisblatt, owner of the three-store chain 
Sam's Video and vice president of the North 
Texas chapter of the Video Software Dealers 
Assocation (VSDA), points out, "The average 
studio isn't going to send a film to this board after 
the MPAA has rated it." 

"What this group is really after," Weisblatt 
believes, "is to go back to things as they were 
under the Hays Office, which really censored 
scripts." Markels concurs, "They want to make it 
so difficult for Hollywood to distribute films that 
Hollywood will invite them into the script review 
process." The NARB News makes glowing refer- 
ence to the Hays Office' s Production Code and the 
pivotal role of the Protestant and Catholic churches 
in encouraging production of "pro-social movies" 
from the 1930s through the 1950s. 

The Hays Office was created in 1922 when 
President Harding appointed postmaster general 
Will Hays, a conservative Republican, to head the 
Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of 
America (MPPDA), a newly established self- 
regulatory trade organization. The MPPDA was 
meant to quell public outrage over several lurid 
scandals implicating Hollywood stars in rape, 
adultery, murder, and death by drug overdose. 

To mollify the public and stave off censorship 
laws under consideration in 36 states, the Hays 
Office established a Purity Code. In 1 934 this was 
replaced by the more draconian Production Code. 
Drafted and overseen by a Jesuit priest and two 
Catholic layman, the code allowed them editorial 




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input from the intial story conference to final cut 
on ever)' studio film. This stricter code came 
about when religious groups protested the greater 
degree of violence and realism in the new sound 
pictures. As a result, "scenes of passion" were 
prohibited, as were "vulgar utterances" (includ- 
ing "cripes" and "nuts"), excessive drinking, nu- 
dity, "excessive and lustful kissing," and all but 
the most delicate and plot-essential references to 
rape, prostitution, and illicit sex. Even animated 
cows went udderless. Crime couldn't pay. police 
couldn't die at the hands of criminals, and weap- 
ons couldn't be discussed. 

The public outcry against sex and violence was 
not in itself enough to produce the Hays Office 
and Production Code. More critical were the threats 
of boycotts issued by religious groups in eco- 
nomically tough times. In the early 1920s, radio 
and the automobile were siphoning off theater- 
goers. In 1934, the country was deep in the De- 
pression. At neither time could Hollywood risk 
the further erosion of audiences. 

Today the NARB is encouraging similar profit- 
punishing tactics. In NARB News, Baehr exhorts 
readers to picket local theaters, call exhibition 
chains, send letters to MPAA president Jack Valen- 
ti and newspapers running ads for NC-17 films, 
take legal action against any theater selling an 
NC- 1 7 ticket to a minor, and. finally, set up local 
ratings boards across the country. 

Given the continuing recession and the slump 
in ticket sales, the question arises: Just how vul- 
nerable is the film industry today to such pres- 
sure? The MPAA's Stevenson replies, "There 
will be absolutely no compromise in this case, 
because you're talking about the very foundations 
and freedoms that allowed the motion picture 
industry to flourish in this country. What they're 
attempting to do is so clearly unconstitutional and 
un-American: to restrict access to motion pic- 
tures, and not just for kids, but adults, too." 

The victory for ordinance opponents is particu- 
larly sweet, as it was not easily won. Says Weisblatt, 
"Had we not started with the postcards and peti- 
tions, this would have been passed a long time 
ago." 

However, the issue does not die in Fort Worth. 
Two days after the task force's announcement. 
Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahony called for a 
new Christian production code similar to that of 
the Hays Office. Details were announced Febru- 
ary 1 at a seminar held by the Archdiocese Com- 
mission on Obscenity and Pornography and the 
Knights of Columbus. Presenting the updated 
code was none other than NARB's Ted Baehr. 

PATRICIA THOMSON 

NO FREE DUB AT THE 
NATIONAL ARCHIVES 

When Robert Stone was researching his docu- 
mentary Radio Bikini in the early 1980s, he went 
to the National Archives and Research Adminis- 
tration (NARA) in Washington. DC — one of the 
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6 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



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NARA's new no-dub 
policy stalled Bill 
Jamerson's historical 
documentary about 
Mexican farmworkers in 
Michigan. 

Courtesy filmmaker 



^tf-FORENr*^ 



4 -V-ai 



sound recordings — to make nonbroadcast-qual- 
ity copies of US government films for free, with 
his own equipment. He used the trailer made from 
NARA materials to begin fundraising. 

In November, Michigan filmmaker Bill Jamer- 
son thought he'd do much the same thing. Plan- 
ning to make a demo reel for a historical docu- 
mentary about Mexican farmworkers in Michi- 
gan, he arranged to work for two days in the 
archives. But while Jamerson was on a train to 
Washington, a little piece of news in the Federal 
Register was changing his plans for him. As of 
November 19, according to an archive ruling (FR 
Doc. 91-27830), users can no longer make dubs 
from reference copies with their own equipment, 
as they have for at least eight years. Now they 
must pay to have NARA staff copy the material 
they want at a rate of $60 per reel. 

When Jamerson walked in, he discovered the 
rule change. Without the resources for an ex- 
tended stay in Washington to select from the 
archives' holdings or to pay for blanket copying 
from which he might later make selections, he 
turned around and went home. His project is on 
hold. 

Issued without public notice or comment, the 
new rule bans personal copying equipment from 
the archives because of the risk of copyright 
violation. According to the new rule, procedures 
in place to prevent copyright violations were 
"being circumvented" by researchers. A leaked 
internal memo issued last May by NARA official 
Les Waffen notes that "Supreme Court officials" 
visiting the archives demonstrated concern about 
the adequacy of NARA's arrangements for pre- 
venting copyright violation. (Some sources say 
Supreme Court interest was triggered by the tap- 
ing of a segment of Supreme Court oral argument 
by a researcher who didn't know that it was off- 
limits.) Waffen's memo also mentions as a con- 
sideration the projected 1994 move of the bulk of 
the archives material to suburban Maryland, where 
expanded collections, longer hours, and the archi- 
tectural layout would make patrolling the public 
more difficult. 

Independent filmmakers and researchers im- 
mediately expressed alarm. "Fortunately we com- 



pleted the research before this rule went into 
place," says Lance Bird, who made extensive use 
of the archives for his most recent documentary, 
Pearl Harbor Surprise and Remembrance. "It 
would have cost enormous hardships to this pro- 
duction." Independent filmmaker Kitty King con- 
tends that her 1 980 film Silver Wings and Santiago 
Blue, about women Air Force pilots, "would not 
have been made without this [free dubbing] 
policy." King is among the film- and videomakers 
who joined the Open Access Archives Commit- 
tee, an ad-hoc coalition opposing the ban. 

Members of the committee have repeatedly 
asked for specific instances of "circumventing" 
the regulations and have been denied every time. 
The "review conducted by. ..staff mentioned in 
the new rule was nothing more than an "informal 
observation," according to one NARA official. 
Archives public relations officer Jill Brett told 
The Independent that "abuse of the system" trig- 
gered the change, and cited "several instances of 
unauthorized taping," but there have been no 
lawsuits or charges by copyright holders. 

The committee and many veteran users insist 
that copyright concerns are being met now. Copy- 
righted material is segregated from public domain 
material and requires prior approval by archives 
staff for copying, as well as a signed statement of 
responsibility by the researcher. In their formal 
response to the archives' ruling, the committee 
writes, "It appears that the hundreds of research- 
ers who abide by the rules are being made to pay 
for the abuses of an unknown few." If more need 
to be done, two rooms could be created — espe- 
cially since a new facility is being designed now. 

Veteran researchers argue that if there is a 
problem, there are better ways to solve it. They 
contend that the new regulation will make a slow 
process even slower. The archives already takes 
several weeks to make broadcast-quality copies; 
now researchers will have to wait for their final 
and research copies. They also worry about the 
wear and tear from extensive copying of interme- 
diates and fragile originals. 

The committee and other concerned users met 
with assistant archivist Trudy Peterson and sev- 
eral other archives staff members in November 




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and December, and a Congressional subcommit- 
tee sent a letter of inquiry. After six weeks, no 
change was forthcoming, but Brett holds out hope. 
"The National Archives is the most user-friendly 
archives in the world within the limitations of 
archival research," she says. People here are con- 
cerned with the research community's views, and 
to accommodate them, we are looking both at 
pricing and at [improving] delivery time." 

But what the committee and other concerned 
users want is a return to free dubbing. "In an era of 
dwindling resources for independents," says Ed 
Gray, director of Mr. Sears' Catalogue and The 
World that Moses Built, "the open policy of the 
archives was invaluable. It also seemed to reflect 
simple common sense." 

For further information, contact: Open Access 
Archives Committee, Beth Glatt, C-SPAN, 400 
North Capitol Street NW, Suite 650, Washington, 
DC 20001 ; (202) 626-4862; fax: (202) 737-3323. 

PAT AUFDERHEIDE 

Pat Aufderheide is an assistant professor in the 
School of Communication at American University 
and a senior editor of In These Times. 

USIA BIAS BARRED 

The Beirut Agreement has nothing to do with 
hostages or even with the Middle East. It does, 
however, have a great deal to do with international 
film distribution. Designed to facilitate the "in- 
ternational circulation of visual and auditory ma- 
terials of an educational, scientific, and cultural 
character," the 44-year-old international treaty 
provides for the granting of Certificates of Educa- 
tional Character that exempt qualifying materials 
from customs duties. For low-budget independent 
film and video, a certificate can be a deciding 
factor in whether a work can afford to be distrib- 
uted abroad. 

Recent legislation is putting teeth back into the 
Beirut Agreement and laying to rest a dispute that 
has raged over the selective granting of certifi- 
cates by the US Information Agency (USIA) since 
the Reagan era. Last October, new guidelines for 
the implementation of the Beirut Agreement, "in- 
tended to ensure that government regulations do 
not make subjective judgements about the politi- 
cal content or message of documentary films, and 
thereby impede their circulation abroad by the 
denial of educational certification," were signed 
into law as part of the Foreign Relations Authori- 
zation Act [FY 1992, 1993]. The new guidelines 
specify that a film cannot be denied a certificate 
"because it advocates a particular position or 
viewpoint," "because it might lend itself to misin- 
terpretation," "because it does not augment inter- 
national understanding and goodwill," or "be- 
cause in the opinion of the agency the material is 
propaganda." 

During the Reagan era, the USIA began deny- 
ing certificates to films that it deemed promote 
"special points of view" or might be "misinter- 
preted by audiences lacking adequate American 



8 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



points of reference" ["USIA's Truth," November 
1983]. The agency routinely sent films to "outside 
specialists" to judge the films' educational char- 
acter. Not surprisingly, the Department of Energy 
recommended against a certificate for//! Our Own 
Backyard, an examination of uranium-mining 
practices by independents Susanna Styron and 
Pam Jones, and the 1979 ABC News documen- 
tary The Killing Ground, an expose on toxic 
waste, was nixed by the Environmental Protection 
Agency. On the other hand, Radiation — Natu- 
rally, sponsored by the Atomic Industrial Forum, 
received a certificate. 

In 1985, more than a dozen distributors and 
producers along with the Association of Indepen- 
dent Video and Filmmakers filed suit against the 
USIA (Bullfrog Films v. Wick), challenging the 
constitutionality of the agency's granting poli- 
cies. A federal judge ruled that the USIA guide- 
lines were unconstitutional and ordered the agency 
to rewrite them. After a failed appeal, the USIA 
rewrote the guidelines, but the judge ruled that 
these, too, were unconstitutional — a ruling that is 
currently under appeal. 

According to David Cole, attorney for the 
plaintiffs in Bullfrog v. Wick and an attorney with 
the Center for Constitutional Rights, the new 
legislation should resolve the seven-year-old law- 
suit. Cole says that the new act "requires the USIA 
to adopt the very regulations that we suggested it 
adopt some four years ago." 

The battle may be won, but the war is far from 
over. After the Supreme Court's Rust v. Sullivan 
decision last May — which upheld the federal 
government's right to deny funding to clinics that 
discuss abortion — the USIA asked the appeals 
court to apply Rust v. Sullivan to Bullfrog v. Wick, 
arguing that since the agency is in a sense funding 
films (by granting tariff exemptions), it can deter- 
mine what the films can say. Cole believes the 
argument is rendered irrelevant by the new For- 
eign Relations Authorization Act, but he predicts 
the issue will not go away. "The application of 
Rust v. Sullivan to freedom of speech in films," 
says Cole, "will be battled out in the courts for the 
next 10 to 15 years." 

WENDY LEAVENS 

Wendy Leavens is a writer and communications 
assistant with a New York City-based environ- 
mental organization. 



MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO 

A federal anti-pornography bill purporting to pro- 
tect the rights of victims of sex crimes is spurring 
worried opposition within the film, video, pub- 
lishing, and recording industries, and attracting 
the attention of anti-censorship groups. The Por- 
nography Victims' Compensation Act (S-1521), 
introduced into the Senate last July by Senators 
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Charles Grassley (D- 
IA), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), and Charles 
Packwood (R-OR), would enable victims of sex 
crimes — as well as their estates and families — to 



sue the producers, distributors, and sellers of child 
pornography and obscene materials if such mate- 
rials are found by a judge or jury to have caused 
the crimes. Opponents charge that the proposed 
legislation poses an unconstitutional threat to free 
speech and artistic expression without addressing 
the root causes of violence against women. 

If passed, the bill would have a "chilling effect 
on artists whose works deal with sexual issues or 
contain sexual scenes," says Marjorie Heins, di- 
rector of the American Civil Liberties Union's 
(ACLU) Arts Censorship Project. Low-budget 
independent film and video productions contain- 
ing sexual content or sexually explicit material 
targeted as obscene could be crippled by costly 
lawsuits and damaging publicity. 

"Obscenity laws are already a loaded canon 
waiting to go off.. .even if you aren't making 
pornography or obscenity," Heins warns. "This 
legislation would make the situation more severe 
by creating the possibility of ruinous judgments 
about creative works based on some theory that 
the work influenced some sick individual to com- 
mit a crime." 

According to Leanne Katz, executive director 
of the National Coalition Against Censorship, S. 
1 52 1 is based on an unproven theory promoted by 
the Meese Commission condoning the porn-made- 
me-do-it syndrome. "Even though the Meese 
Commission admitted that there was no credible 
evidence to support a link between pornography 
and violent behavior, their premise that sexually 
graphic words and images cause violence against 
women has been increasingly — and dangerously — 
used, not just as a theory, but as fact." 

The Pornography Victims' Compensation Act 
is a modified version of a bill introduced into the 
Senate last spring which would have enabled sex 
crime victims to collect compensation from pro- 
ducers and distributors of any "sexually explicit" 
work judged instrumental to a sex crime. The 
Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the 
original bill last July in an effort to appease strong 
opposition from over 20 major industry groups, 
including the Motion Picture Association, the 
National Cable Association, the American Book- 
sellers Association, the Video Software Dealers 
Association, and the American Society of Jour- 
nalists and Authors. One day before the hearings 
were to be held, the bill's sponsors revised it to 
limit claims to those brought against "hard core 
pornographic material." 

Yet the threat to constitutionally protected 
material with sexual content remains substantial, 
warns Chris Finan, executive director of the Me- 
dia Coalition, which has spearheaded opposition 
to the proposed legislation. "Under S. 1521, the 
gun is in the hands of the victim, and there is a 
great danger that victims of savage attacks will 
strike out against any sexually explicit material 
they feel played a role in the crime, even if it 
didn't," Finan explains. 

If it becomes law, the Pornography Victims' 
Compensation Act could create a national ob- 
scenity standard reflecting the values of the most 



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conservative communities. Finan warns. 'Cur- 
renth . local communities are given considerable 
leeway in defining obscenity: works that are le- 
gally produced and sold in one place are illegal in 
others." he explains. "Under S. 1 52 1 . however, a 
producer or distributor who disseminated a work 
thai was legal under the standards of the commu- 
nity where their business was located could be 
sued if it were linked to a sexual assault in a place 
w here the community regarded it as obscene." 

Significantly, the cases tried under S. 1521 
would be civil rather than criminal suits. "Where 
the 'obscenity" of material must be proved "be- 
yond a reasonable doubt' in a criminal prosecu- 
tion, a mere 'preponderance of the evidence' is 
enough to establish liability in a civil case," notes 
Finan. Sympathetic victims might sway a jury 
into finding material obscene that would not be 
found illegal if the jury had not heard the details of 
an attack and its aftermath. 

Finan fears that the proposed bill will become 
another weapon in the arsenal of right-wing cen- 
sorship groups that might use the legislation to 
suppress material that is neither obscene nor child 
pornography. Donald Wildmon's American Fam- 
ily Association (AFA) already highlights in its 
newsletter press reports of sexually explicit ma- 
terials found in the homes of alleged rapists, 
according to Finan. Under S. 1521, he fears the 
AFA might actively seek out the victims of sex 
crimes and encourage them to file suit against the 
creators and distributors of such materials. 

Despite continued opposition from a broad 
range of literary, artistic, professional, and anti- 
censorship groups, the sponsors of the Pornogra- 
phy Victims' Compensation Act have not backed 
down. The ACLU is calling for new hearings to 
allow for testimony against the revised bill, but 
none have been scheduled as yet. Members of the 
Judiciary Committee are expected to recommend 
a vote in the Senate in early February. With right- 
wing groups vocally supporting the bill and no 
scheduled hearings, the Congress "urgently need 
letters of objection," asserts Katz. 

Even if the Pornography Victims' Compensa- 
tion Act is eventually defeated, the disquieting 
assumption behind it may not be. "The underlying 
theory — that producers and distributors of media 
of all kinds can be held responsible for criminal 
acts committed by others because words and pic- 
tures cause crime — remains unchanged," asserts 
Finan. "This is a truly radical idea that is clearly 
capable of expansion beyond the realm of sexu- 
ally explicit material." 

LAURIE OUELLETTE 

Laurie Ouellette writes frequently about media 
and censorship issues. Formerly with the Utne 
Reader, she currently works with the Institute for 
Alternative Journalism in New York City. 

AIRWAVE ROBBERY? 

Last summer Appalshop. a Kentucky-based me- 
dia arts center, received a request from the Gillette 
Company for a copy of Chemical Valley, an 



Appalshop documentary which aired on the Pub- 
lic Broadcasting System's P.O.V. series. When 
Appalshop's Carolyn Sturgill followed up the 
next day, however, she learned from a secretary 
that Gillette had already obtained a copy of the 
show at a lower price from the Boston office of the 
Video Monitoring Services of America (VMS). 

The trespass against Appalshop's exclusive 
distribution rights set off alarms within the Inde- 
pendent Media Distributors Alliance (IMDA), an 
alliance of distributors organized to promote in- 
dependent distribution. 

As part of IMDA's investigation into VMS, 
Brenda Shanley of Fanlight Productions placed 
an order with VMS for a copy of The Elder, a film 
exclusively distributed by Fanlight which aired 
on WGBH's New Television series. The order was 
filled "without asking any questions," contends 
Ben Achtenberg, a member of IMDA's executive 
committee. "It seems VMS is in the habit of taping 
the networks and PBS off-air and selling pro- 
grams to anyone who requests them," Achtenberg 
concluded in a memo to the executive committee. 

In August, Ivan Bender, a lawyer with the 
Association of Instructional Media Equipment 
(AIME), sent VMS a cease and desist warning, 
demanding an account of all VMS excerpts sold in 
the last 10 years, but VMS refused to comply. The 
national 24-hour news and public affairs pro- 
gramming monitoring service does not deny that 
it provides video copies of programming to its 
clients. But VMS legal counsel Bill Keller, in 
response to Bender's request, claims that the 
company ' s activities are "protected by the fair use 
provisions of the 1976 Copyrights Act." 

The fair use provision permits limited use of 
copyrighted material without permission under 
specific circumstances. To qualify, a work must 
be of a noncommercial or educational nature; only 
a limited portion of the copyrighted material may 
be used; the original material must be of a public, 
versus a private, nature; most importantly, the 
work should not negatively affect the market 
value of the original. 

Keller claims that VMS' activities are pro- 
tected because the company's services do "not 
compete with or adversely affect the demand for 
the original product." but "enhance that demand 
by making available, generally on an overnight 
basis, relevant and time sensitive information." 
Keller further maintains that "[VMS] does not 
systematically record and sell copies of entire 
programs, but merely transcribes or copies seg- 
ments upon request." Because VMS is providing 
"access to ideas," Keller asserts their activities 
satisfy a principal concern of courts in determin- 
ing fair use. 

VMS has successfully employed a fair use 
argument before to defend its monitoring of CNN 
programming in Cable News Network v. Video 
Monitoring Senices of America. Last year, an 
Eleventh Circuit federal court reversed a grant of 
a preliminary injunction against VMS, according 
to Keller, "in large part because the court recog- 
nized that certain future VMS uses of the [CNN] 



10 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 




Chemical Valley is among the 
independently distributed programs 
pirated by Video Monitoring Services. 

Courtesy Appalshop 



programming may be allowable as fair use. ..[and] 
the importance of access to ideas in evaluating the 
proper scope of allowable copyright protection." 

But IMDA coordinator Bob Gale points out 
that unlike "news and public affairs programming 
which is not in active videocassette distribution 
...the materials in question" are harmed by VMS' 
activities. And in the case of series like New 
Television, which may screen several shorts in 
one show, VMS' claim that it only transcribes 
segments of programs is misleading. The Elder, 
which VMS sold to Fanlight as a six-minute 
program segment, is in fact a complete short film. 

"VMS cites its victory against CNN as its legal 
authority," says Gale. "But whether the court 
meant for VMS' limited use of news and public 
affairs style programming to be extended to in- 
clude experimental documentaries and drama. ..is 
highly questionable." 

VMS' fair use argument is not airtight. As 
Keller himself points out in his response to 
Achtenberg's letter, the most important fair use 
factor is "the effect of the use upon the potential 
market value of the copyrighted work." But, as the 
sale of the Appalshop tape demonstrates, VMS' 
operations have directly undercut sales by inde- 
pendent distributors. 

Even with just cause for action, it might be 
difficult for IMDA to take on VMS because of 
simple dollars and cents. Achtenberg is loathe to 
"get involved in any expensive legal action," he 
admits, "at least and until it becomes clear that 
some of our members were significantly injured." 

IMDA is continuing to collect information 
about VMS' activities. For further information, 
contact: IMDA, c/o ArtBase, Box 2154, St. Paul. 
MN 55102; (612) 298-01 17. 

ELLEN LEVY 

AND THE WINNERS ARE... 

The Independent Television Service (ITVS) has 
announced the recipients of its first round of 



grants. The awards, which range from $30,000 to 
$300,000, will underwrite the production of 25 
programs selected from a pool of 2,000 applicants 
to ITVS' open call solicitation. The total amount 
awarded in this round is S3-million, leaving $2- to 
$3-million for the second open call, which has a 
March 16 deadline. A request for proposals for 
"focused programming" will be issued this spring. 
The grant recipients are: Barbara Abrash and 
Esther Katz (516,500), A Public Nuisance: Mar- 
garet Sanger and the Brownsville Clinic, which 
documents the media's role in early public de- 
bates about birth control; Suzie Baer ($50,000). 
Warrior: The Case of Leonard Peltier, on the 
incarcerated Native American activist Peltier; 
Christine Chang ($29,872), Be Good. My Chil- 
dren, about a Korean immigrant family; Shu Lea 
Cheang ($300,000), For Whom the Air Waves, a 
dark comedy set in a sushi bar during an environ- 
mental crisis; Tony Cokes ($39,210), Love. La- 
bor. Language, an inquiry into love. work, family, 
and money; David Collier ($34,140), For Better 
or for Worse, about five elderly couples who have 
been together for more than half a century; Anna 
Maria Garcia and Eduardo Aguiar ($152,684), 
Endangered Species: The Toxic Poisoning of 
Communities of Color, on the public health crisis 
and efforts to counteract it: Faith Hubley ( $77,375 ). 
Tall Time Tales, an animated short about the faces 
of time; Paul Kwan ($75,358), Anatomy of a 
Springroll, which uses the metaphor of food to 
explore Southeast Asian culture; Helen Lee and 
Kerri Sakamoto ($26,795 ), Little Baka Girl, about 
the romance between a Japanese American and a 
recent Korean immigrant; Victor Masayesva, Jr. 
($297,000), Imagining Indians, on how Native 
Americans have been imagined in popular Ameri- 
can media; Ruth Peyser ($30,250), Go to Hell!, an 
animated short in which a woman trips and falls 
into a dream; Sam Pollard, Peter Miller, and John 
Valadez ($149,758), Citizen Dhoruba, about a 
former Black Panther falsely accused of a crime; 
Joanna Priestley ($38,837), Aging Grace, an ani- 



mated film about the pains and pleasures of middle- 
age; Puhipau and Joan Lander ( $294,936). An Act 
of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation, 
a documentary about the 1 893 American over- 
throw of Hawaii from a native Hawaiian perspec- 
tive; MarlonT.Riggs($245.000).fl/acA7s...fi/tfr£ 
Ain't, a documentary exploring the meanings of 
blackness to African Americans; Kathe Sandler 
($100,000). A Question of Color, about color- 
consciousness among African Americans; Lynn 
Smith ($37,512). Sandburg's Arithmetic, an ani- 
mated film for children based on the Carl Sandburg 
poem Arithmetic; Gary Soto ($65,000). The Pool 
Party, about a Chicano boy who makes a splash in 
a pool; Veronica Soul ($65,425), Ghost Story, 
about time and memory from the perspective of a 
Chinese immigrant family; Ellen Spiro ($78,604), 
Out Here, about southern gay and lesbian culture; 
Ela Troyano ($100,000), Once Upon a Time.... 
exploring relationships between young Latinas 
and Latinos; Edin Velez ($197,955), Memoiy of 
Fire, a stylistically rich narrative reassessing the 
discovery of the New World by Columbus; Clay 
Walker ($92,155), Post No Bills, about the pro- 
cess of creating political street art; the Wooster 
Group ($55,669), White Homeland Commando, a 
take-off on a TV cop show in which a special unit 
of the police force infiltrates a white supremacist 
organization. 

SEQUELS 

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting's 
reauthorization for 1994-96 may be heading into 
troubled waters. After the bill, which applies to 
PBS, NPR, and ITVS, sailed through the House, 
some unnamed Senators put it on "hold," a tactic 
that can indefinitely delay debate on a bill. An aide 
to Senate minority leader Robert Dole confirmed 
that certain Senators were concerned with what 
they perceived as public television's left-leaning 
bias. Among people lobbying for the privatization 
of public television is Dole's former speechwriter 
and right-wing media watchdog David Horowitz. 
Programs that have been singled out include Bill 
Moyer's documentaries on Iran-Contragate. a Na- 
tional Audubon special on environmental damage 
caused by cattle called The New Range Wars, and 
various Frontline programs. Congressional ob- 
servers expect CPB's opponents in the Senate to 
seek concessions, possibly in the form of content 
restrictions or in closer congressional oversight 
through an annual reauthorization procedure, rather 
than the current three-vear bill. 



MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 1 1 



FIELD REPORTS 



WOMEN'S WORK 

AFI's Directing Workshop for Women 



BARBARA OSBORN 



The aspiring directors situation is "a classic catch 
22," says Hollywood producer Gale Anne Hurd 
(Terminator 2). "In order to get your first job as a 
director, you have to show that you already know 
how to direct." But getting this initial experience 
is no simple matter, particularly for women. Since 
1974. the American Film Institute (AFI) Direct- 
ing Workshop for Women ( D WW ) has been help- 
ing women do just this, bringing would-be direc- 
tors to the AFI campus in Los Angeles where they 
can develop their talents. 




Choreographer Karole Armitage takes 
a crack at directing during AFI's 
Directing Workshop for Women. 

Photo: Jeff Hyman, courtesy American Film Institute 



The DWW offers two weeks of training semi- 
nars which provide practical information on how 
to direct a movie. In addition to directing a three- 
minute test piece during the seminar, participants 
are also given the opportunity to direct a short film 
using AFI resources. These shorts, which usually 
run about half an hour, are undertaken with a 
volunteer crew and cast assembled by the direc- 
tor. Following the October seminar. DWW par- 
ticipants return to the AFI campus over the next 1 8 
months to two years to direct their shorts. 

Many DWW neophytes come from unrelated 
fields and start out knowing little about the pro- 
cess of filmmaking. The 1991 group, representing 
DWW*s eighth cycle, was a typical mix of film 
professionals and artists from other disciplines. 
Among the 12 women were novelist Rita Mae 
Brown, choreographers Karole Armitage and 
Sarah Elgart. songwriter Allee Willis, and docu- 
mentary filmmakers Lyn Goldfarb and Michelle 
Parkerson. They were selected from a pool of 400 



applicants evaluated on the basis of a script and 
personal statement. 

The seminars are taught primarily by DWW 
alumnae and cover everything from grip equip- 
ment to story meetings. This year actress Jennifer 
Warren. DP Nancy Schreiber, and editor Carol 
Littleton, among others, offered nuts-and-bolts 
advice on surviving one's low-budget directing 
debut. Warren, a DWW fourth cycle director, 
showed her film and talked about her experience 
making it. She offered a useful laundry list of 
production dos and don'ts: "Test your camera 
before you take it out." "Get a good location 
scout." "Keep location moves to a minimum." 

Many of the women had never worked with 
actors and zeroed in on Warren's experience as an 
actress. She advised them to create "a safe space" 
for actors. "Share as much information as you 
can." Warren encouraged. "Tell them what you 
want. A good director puts people on the same 
wavelength." As the women sat around a large 
conference table at the AFI's Manor House, an 
easy give-and-take evolved. Participant/actresses 
Shirley Knight and Joyce Van Patten amplified 
Warren's advice, drawing from their own experi- 
ences with effective and ineffective directors. 

During the seminars, information is gener- 
ously given and gratefully received. At least as 
important, the women develop a solidarity among 
themselves, sharing experience, resources, and 
contacts. That energy helps sustain them through 
the cold shower of the filmmaking process. Sixth 
cycle director Mary Benjamin speaks for many 
when she says. "The seminars were fun. but I 
learned by making the film." 

Much of that learning process occurs by simply 
diving into the chaos of low-budget filmmaking, 
where inexperience and lack of money often lead 
to disaster. By way of warning. Warren told the 
DWW directors her personal horror story. After 
the first day of shooting, her leading actress tele- 
phoned to say she was leaving for New York the 
next day. "I'd lost my leading lady and a day of 
shooting." she remembers, her voice trembling 
with anger and disappointment nearly 10 years 
later. Her back against the wall. Warren regret- 
fully took the role herself, knowing that her film 
was doomed to look like an acting showcase. 

When Warren made her short in 1980-81. the 
DWW offered SI. 600 towards making the film. 
What the AFI offers participants has varied from 
year to year. Some years film equipment was 
available. Other years it was only money. Some- 



12 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



times a little of both. Until the sixth cycle in 1987, 
there were no training seminars. Participants took 
what they were offered and went to work. Many 
sunk significant sums of money into their films. 
Warren, for instance, spent $1 5,000 on hers. (The 
AFI retains all rights to the productions regardless 
of the amount of personal money directors invest 
in their projects.) Recently DWW resources have 
become relatively standardized. The seminars are 
now an integral part of the program, and a cash 
allowance of $5,000 — the Gale Anne Hurd Pro- 
duction Grant, named for the program's staunch- 
est financial supporter — is awarded to each par- 
ticipant. The AFI contribution includes an eight- 
day schedule with a Betacam rig, a month of off- 
line editing, and one week of on-line at AFI's 
Sony Video Center. 

Each woman is asked to raise at least another 
$5,000 for her film. For the well-heeled, the 
money comes directly from a bank account. Oth- 
ers go to friends and family. The AFI provides a 
"Dear Friend" fundraising letter to help solicit 
money — small comfort to women unfamiliar and 
uncomfortable with the beg-and-borrow mode of 
production. Indeed, most DWW alumnae report 
that fundraising and calling-in favors is the hard- 
est aspect of production for them. 

Director Michelle Parkerson admits to being 
taken by surprise by the need to raise matching 
funds. Once she began calculating, Parkerson 
realized that she was likely to need twice the 
specified amount, since she has to keep her docu- 
mentary projects afloat in her home base of Wash- 
ington D.C., while she is in Los Angeles directing 
her DWW film, a sci-fi story that's liable to 
require pricey effects work unavailable at the 
Sony Video Center. 

The production process, difficult under the best 
of circumstances, is exponentially harder for non- 
Los Angeles residents like Parkerson. Without 
friends, contacts, or a place to live, would-be 
directors from out of town confront a lot of simple 
logistical problems. Many past DWW directors, 
like Mary Benjamin, a documentary producer 
from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Carole 
Oligiario, a New York actress, have interpreted 
the DWW award as a reason to move to Los 
Angeles. 

"Women don't know exactly what to expect 
when they get here," admits DWW director Tess 
Martin. "They see it as a short cut to make a film, 
but the projects have big limitations." Despite 
innumerable warnings voiced by alumnae during 
the seminars, it's hard for most DWW newcomers 
to realize that the award is a mixed blessing. 
Women arrive thinking the AFI is giving them 
something, only to realize down the line that it is 
they who have to give and give in order to get the 
film done. It ' s a brutal realization. "I know exactly 
what the women are feeling," Martin says. "They 
look at me and think, 'What did you get me into?' 
The women feel lost and think the film won't 
happen." 

DWW films sometimes take years to finish. 









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Once completed, they are expected by many DWW 
participants to pay off as "calling cards," opening 
doors to directing work by demonstrating the 
director's skill. For a few directors, the strategy 
has worked. Fourth cycle director Randa Haines' 
DWW project first led to screenwriting work, 
then to directing for PBS. and ultimately to two 
features. Children of a Lesser God and The Doc- 
tor. Lesli Glatter. a director in the fifth cycle and 
choreographer with no prior experience in film- 
making, got an Academy Award nomination for 
her short. Steven Spielberg saw her work and 
hired her to direct several Amazing Stories TV 
episodes. That led to episodes of Twin Peaks. 
Next summer she's set to direct a new David 
Lynch feature script. Glatter says she wouldn't be 
where she is today were it not for the DWW. 

Despite Haines andGlatter's success, the DWW 
tries hard not to be product-oriented. Martin em- 
phasizes. "It's much more important that the 
women leave learning a lot, not that they have a 
piece that will get them a job. The product doesn't 
mean anything to us. The goal is to explore their 
ability as directors." Although three DWW projects 
have received Academy Award nominations in 
the short dramatic film category (Glatter's Tales 
of Meeting and Parting, Matia Caroli's Cadillac 
Dreams, and Dyan Cannon 's Number One), Mar- 
tin is quick to note. "The Academy Award is not 
what we're about." 

In fact, the DWW's shift from film to tape 
production in 1987 makes the productions ineli- 
gible for Academy Award consideration. It also 
restricts distribution and potentially limits the 
projects' viability as calling cards, since video is 
still regarded by many in Hollywood as film's 
bastard brother. Though regretted, the switch was 
a financial neccessity . The DWW lives a cycle-to- 
cycle existence, each cycle running 18 months to 
two years. According to Martin, its budget of 
S250.000 per cycle could no longer support a film 
program. The fact that there have only been eight 
DWW cycles since 1974 is also an indication of 
the program's on-going financial precariousness. 

The DWW ' s emphasis on process over product 
is well-intentioned, albeit a little disingenuous. 
The program is hardly for unambitious weekend 
artists. But the DWW's soft-stepping assures the 
program achievable objectives. "The program 
isn't about getting women work as directors," 
says Martin. "That would be an unrealistic goal to 
make." Indeed, it would be foolish to count on an 
industry that rewards so few women. Directors' 
Guild of America statistics for 1990 indicate that 
a paltry nine percent of its members are women. 

The DWW clearly helps women get experi- 
ence directing, but getting work is another story. 
Once the DWW experience is over, the alumnae 
still have to meet the right person or get their 
hands on a must-buy property to move ahead in 
the film industry, which is where many DWW 
participants want to be. Nevertheless. DWW alum- 
nae suggest that their time, money, and effort at 
DWW pay off in confidence and self-empower- 
ment. Oligiaro. a DWW second cycle director. 



14 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



says, "The program was an opportunity to vali- 
date myself as a director. I might have just contin- 
ued acting. At least I know now that I can do this. 
It gave me a lot of confidence, and it's given me 
the basis for perseverance. You had to sink or 
swim." 

By going through the DWW process, some 
women learn that they don't want to be directors, 
reports Martin. Others set modest expectations for 
themselves. Some independents never aim to get 
on the Hollywood track. For Kathe Sandler, an 
African American from the seventh cycle, it's 
simple realism. There isn't support within Holly- 
wood for films by and about women, let alone 
women of color, she explains, while her work as 
an independent documentary filmmaker is well- 
recognized. None of the DWW women are eager 
to trade-in an established career for the inconstant 
world of feature filmmaking. Michelle Parkerson 
sees the program as "a great opportunity for me to 
make a shift into narrative work." But she is also 
hedging her bets, waiting to see whether to plunge 
into dramatic filmmaking full-time or continue to 
build her career as a documentary filmmaker. 
Parkerson calls the DWW a much appreciated 
"opportunity to fail. In the independent commu- 
nity," she explains, "everything has to pay back. 
This time, if it works, wonderful. If not, I learned 
a lot." 

The DWW presents women with an opportu- 
nity, but it's one with risks attached and no guar- 
anteed pay-off. Not all participants understand the 
bargain at the outset. Although several DWW 
alumnae are making their living as directors, most 
are not. Many are still working as script supervi- 
sors, writers, actors, and musicians as they struggle 
for their chance to direct a production for the big 
screen. Getting women into the industry will take 
far more than simply creating a larger pool of 
qualified directors. More women are needed at 
higher executive levels. At the box office the 
stigma of "women's films" must pass for audi- 
ences. Ultimately, women must get beyond the 
"woman director" label among their peers, which 
limits the kinds of projects they are offered. Gale 
Anne Hurd sums up the situation with a kind of 
zen koan: "Once women directors stop being 
special," she says, "we'll see more movies by 
women." 

Barbara Osborn writes about film and television 
for Millimeter and Television Business 
International. Her last article forThe Independent 
was a profile of British director Ken McMullen. 



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MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 15 



SHORT CIRCUIT 

Canada's Five Feminist Minutes Meets Distribution Difficulties 



CATHERINE SAALFIELD 



Whai happens when you give SI 0,000 and 600 
feel of 16mm film stock to 16 different women 
directors of widely varying sensibilities and styles, 
and tell each to make a five-minute film? Three 
years ago. the Canadian National Film Board 
(NFB) decided to find out. The result is Five 
Feminist Minutes, a nearly two-hour feast of 
shorts that is richly eclectic in approach and 
content. 

Completed in February 1990, the program 
functions as a photo album of sorts, unified 
solely by length, medium, and gender. Film- 
makers from British Columbia to New 
Brunswick address topics ranging from the 
intersection of poverty and pregnancy to a 
Saskatchewan pioneer who fought in 1 9 1 6 for 
women's right to vote. The series encom- 
passes everything from rap videos to a 
paperdoll cut-out animation with prostitutes, 
police, and Johns, from a quiet and powerful 
evocation of incest to a live action comedy 
about a girl's first period. Five Feminist Min- 
utes is an effective reminder of the potential of 
the short film form and the wealth of talent 
and ideas among Canadian women directors. 
The project also inadvertently reveals the 
chronic difficulties in packaging and distrib- 
uting short films. 

Five Feminist Minutes was created to cel- 
ebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the NFB's 
women's unit, Studio D. Of the 240 submis- 
sions, 16 projects were selected, with the 
directors merely instructed to compose five 
minutes of "what was on their minds and in 
their hearts." 

From the start. Studio D's project producer, 
Mary Armstrong, recognized the symptomatic 
problems of distributing short films, which rarely 
find their way into theaters these days, having 
been shouldered aside by movie previews, paid 
screen ads. and tighter daily exhibition schedules. 
So. recognizing that theaters are more likely to 
book a feature-length package than individual 
shorts, the NFB contracted to package the shorts 
as a single feature-length film and, at the same 
time, to give each filmmaker the rights to her own 
piece. Filmmaker Alison Burns (Let's Rap) re- 
members. "They said, 'You can have it both 
ways.'" Furthermore. Armstrong arranged that 
the NFB wouldn't distribute the feature; instead. 



it would be handled by the company of the film- 
makers' collective choice. However, with ^pro- 
ducers spread out across Canada and no central- 
ized mechanism for decision-making. Five Femi- 
nist Minutes became an unwieldy and sometimes 
unruly creation. 

The NFB thought it best they not handle the 
feature because of their inexpensive, two-dollar 
video rental system. "Independents wouldn't have 




We're Talking Vulva has found a distributor, 
but if s singing, swinging, five-foot star may 
make it hard to peddle in Peoria. 

Courtesy Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center 

gotten anything out of [NFB distribution] but 
exposure." Armstrong acknowledges. What is 
more, the NFB's system would have undercut 
sales and rentals for any independent distributor 
also handling the package. As director Burns 
explains, "The NFB was getting flack from inde- 
pendent distributors for taking their business" and 
for getting a feature film for cheap ($160,000). 
"So they said, 'Okay, we won't distribute this. 
We're not trying to make a profit.'" Armstrong 



acted solely as the project facilitator, the produc- 
tion money was seen as a grant, and NFB main- 
tains the right only to exhibit the film in festivals 
and at NFB screenings. 

Despite the good intentions, this arrangement 
has not worked out as well as everyone had hoped. 
Armstrong laments, "We made an effort to make 
each filmmaker happy and offered the artists the 
most creative freedom and control over their own 
films, but it backfired." She explains, "The 
small independent distribution companies 
clearly don't have the means, the kind of 
machine that the NFB has. They can't fire off 
copies of the film because it costs so much 
money." Burns adds, "There we [filmmakers] 
were with this package. And we're only con- 
nected by the National Film Board. We all 
talked informally for over a whole year, but 
we didn't have the funds to meet. So, the 
board brought us together once when the film 
premiered and we discussed [distribution] 
then." But even at the end of this meeting, 
there were many issues still unresolved. "Most 
people wanted to stay in touch [to continue 
discussion of bundling and distribution op- 
tions]; some didn't." 

Five Feminist Minutes was picked up by 
the Vancouver distributor Women in Focus in 
January 1 99 1 . Soon thereafter, this outfit tem- 
porarily ceased distribution due to a lack of 
funds. Also in January, the package went to 
the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Cen- 
ter (CFMDC), a noncommercial, artist-run 
enterprise now in its twenty-fifth year, which 
has the largest collection of independent and 
experimental work in Canada. According to 
CFMDC staff member William Beattie. the 
organization characteristically gave a good 
deal of attention to Five Feminist Minutes 
when it arrived, aggressively generating valuable 
screenings at galleries, universities, and festivals. 
The package also had successful short runs at 
some alternative theaters and repertory houses, 
including the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Mas- 
sachusetts and the Nickelodeon in Santa Cruz, 
California. And it appears every few months at 
Montreal's biggest repertory cinema, the Realto. 
But despite the concerted effort. CFMDC. like all 
smaller independent distributors, faces the usual 
obstacles of expensive print duplication and pub- 
licity. 

Half of the Five Feminist Minutes producers 
have opted to have their shorts also distributed 
separately by CFMDC. They include Christene 



16 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



Richly eclectic, Five Feminist Minutes 

encapsulates feminism's diversity in the 

nineties. Still from The Untitled Story by 

Frances Leeming and Cathy Quinn. 

Courtesy Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center 



Browne (No Choice), Elaine Pain (A Letter from 
Violet), Cathy Quinn and Francis Leeming (The 
Untitled Story), Michelle Mohabeer (Exposure), 
Gwendolyn (Prowling by Night), Janis Cole (Shag- 
gie), Ann Marie Flemming (New Shoes), and 
Burns (Let's Rap). To the producers' advantage, 
CFMDC has demonstrated numerous innovative 
strategies for getting shorts out, since they consti- 
tute the majority of the catalog. Of their 1 ,300 
titles, there are only a few feature-length pieces 
and a handful of epic avant-garde experiments. 

As originally expected, none of the individual 
pieces has been booked theatrically. But they 
have found interested audiences elsewhere. Aca- 
demics and independent programmers have 
curated these thematically with other works. For 
example, the market for Exposure, which investi- 
gates racial and sexual identity expressed through 
a dialogue between two lesbians of color, inter- 
sects film festivals highlighting lesbians and gays 
and people of color, as well as women-focused 
exhibitions. CFMDC has also found a niche for 
Prowling by Night, an animated docudrama ex- 
posing police harassment of prostitutes when they 
legally give out condoms and HIV information on 
the streets. Prowling is being screened in venues 
concerned with issues of sexuality, AIDS, and sex 
trade workers, such as New York's Gay and 
Lesbian Experimental Film Festival. 

Distribution possibilities also increase when 
the filmmaker has a body of work. The emphasis 
of CFMDC has been to promote filmmakers more 
than individual films. So someone with several 
shorts in distribution, like Ann Marie Flemming, 
has had New Shoes exhibited alongside her four 
other shorts. New Shoes takes place in a bright 
kitchen over tea, where a woman recounts how 
her former fiance tried to murder her and then 
killed himself. 

Burns made her film debut with Let's Rap. 
This cute dance and music number, which touches 
on freedom of choice, safer sex for lesbians, job 
equity, cross-generational exchange, and legal 
protections, has enjoyed varied audiences. Burns 
chose to have Cinema Libre in Montreal also 
distribute her piece. They have attached Let's Rap 
to a feature about Lea Roback, a compelling 
feminist, union organizer, and Communist Party 
member. When the feature is ordered, the dis- 
tributor suggests beginning the program with Let's 
Rap. 

The leeway NFB gave individual producers to 
negotiate their own distribution arrangements has 
been a hindrance in some cases, when package 




Women Make Movies 

20th Anniversary Film Tour 



deals have gotten bogged down because of the 
size of the group. Women Make Movies in New 
York City expressed interest in packaging a few 
pieces and began discussions with the individual 
filmmakers, but these petered out. Nor have any 
other efforts to create a mini-series come to frui- 
tion. Producer Burns sighs, "Logistics were just 
too much for us to put something together. We 
tried. Sixteen people — all with different view- 
points and in different areas of the country — made 
it too hard to keep anything together." 

So far, neither the package nor any individual 
shorts have been shown on national Canadian 
television. Armstrong says, "TV [programmers] 
look at it and say, 'The quality varies substan- 
tially.' And they won't go near it." She notes, "We 
could have packaged it differently so the hottest 
and the best went out, but that wouldn ' t have been 
fair. No one agreed to that." Two of the hottest are 
Prowling by Night and Shawna Dempsey and 
Tracey Traeger's We're Talking Vulva. Perhaps 
the most popular piece in the collection, We're 
Talking Vulva has been picked up for distribution 
by Zeitgeist in New York. But it is unlikely fare 
for most broadcasters, since it features a singing, 
swinging, pro-choice, pro-sex, five-foot vulva. 
Both films have become the target of a mild 
controversy, stirred up, says Armstrong, by "some 
yahoo trying to get his name in the paper." 

Despite the difficulties that Five Feminist 
Minutes has encountered. Let's Rap director Burns 
still believes the project was worthwhile: "I al- 
ways thought it was a wonderful idea to have 16 
films from women all across the country, with no 
common topic and no restrictions. It's important 
for Canada to have this kind of record of what 
women were thinking about in the nineties." But, 
as she observes, the project never had the chance 
it deserves. "Right after it came out, when none of 
the distribution agreements were firm, it was 
getting press, but we couldn't run with it." In 
contrast to the United States, where filmmakers 
encounter discouraging roadblocks from the ear- 
liest stages of fundraising, exceptionally high- 
quality work is being funded and produced in 
Canada. The regrettable missing link is an ade- 
quate distribution plan. 

Catherine Saalfield is a videomaker, writer, and 
project coordinator of the Seeing through AIDS 
media workshops. 




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MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 17 





BLACK WOMEN DIRECTORS TAKE THE HELM 




YVONNE WELBON 



1 YE 



. E BEEN A TOKEN ALL MY LIFE AND ILL BE A TOKEN EYERY DAY UNTIL I 

burst through those doors and bring everybody w ith me." says Daresha Kyi. 
30. one of four blacks enrolled in the American Film Instituted (AFI) 
director's conservatory program. 



""Even body" is the dozens upon dozens of black women filmmakers who 
have, against tremendous odds, brought their stories of the African Ameri- 
can experience to the screen. Together. America's black women filmmakers 
are creating a small revolution through their style, stories, and strategies. 
They are forging ahead with or without the blessings of Hollywood, which 
has conspicuously ignored them in its rush to embrace the new ly prominent 
and profitable crop of black male directors, including Emest Dickerson. 
John Singleton. Bill Duke. Reginald and Warrington Hudlin. Mario Van 
Peebles, and Spike Lee. 



18 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



Julie Dash (left) directs Barbara-0 in Daughters of the Dust, a 
turn-of-the-century drama about a Gullah family preparing to 
emigrate North. Dash's film radically departs from the homeboy 
pictures now popular among black male directors. 

Photo: Floyd Webb, courtesy filmmake 



Julie Dash, Neema Barnette, Zeinabu irene Davis, Michelle Parkerson, 
Delle Chatman, and Ayoka Chenzira are just a few of the women who are 
graduates of top film schools and programs, including the University of 
California-Los Angeles, New York University, AFI, and the Warner 
Brothers Writers Program. They have won numerous awards, including a 
student Academy, Emmys, and the Black Filmmaker Foundation's Best 
Black Film of the Decade (Dash's Illusions). They have worked for PBS. 
CBS, NBC, ABC. Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, and smaller pro- 
duction companies. They have proven themselves to be financial wizards, 
creating very original works with low budgets. Faced with every "ism" in 
the book, America's black women filmmakers are making great strides. 
Except in one area. 

In terms of directing features, Hollywood's doors have remained closed 
to America's black women directors. To date, the Hollywood studio system 
has produced and distributed the work of only one black woman director, the 
Martinique-born Euzhan Palcy (A Dry White Season). 

Of the approximately 450 features released in 1991 by the studios and 
major independent companies, 12 were directed by black men and none by 
black women. The fact that more black films were produced in 1991 than 
in the entire decade of the 1980s would seem cause for celebration. But the 
attention given the black male directors is something of a double-edged 
sword. As Barbara Scharres. director of the Film Center of the Art Institute 
of Chicago, points out, "On one hand, black women directors want to join 
in the celebration — but the fact is, it's more of that same old thing called 
sexism." 

Be it sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, or whatever is popular at 
the time (homeboy movie), black women directors have developed ways to 
combat obstacles in their paths that might prevent them from getting their 
films made and seen. "I deal with obstacles one at a time. It's been 
happening for so long," says Julie Dash, 39, director of Daughters of the 
Dust. "It's like having your period. You know it ' s going to be there, and you 
know there is going to be some pain." 

For Michelle Parkerson, 39, writer/director/producer of a number of 
independent documentaries, including Gotta Make This Journey: Sweet 
Honey in the Rock and Storme: The Lady of the Jewel Box, the "isms" were 
a given. "I knew I'd run up against them," says Parkerson, "and I was 
prepared for them." Other black women filmmakers agree. But what they 
continue to name as their biggest obstacle is "other people's expectations." 

Delle Chatman, who recently completed a screenplay for Sidney Poitier 
and Columbia Pictures, says that there are certain kinds of stories expected 
from black filmmakers. "When Gus Blackmon, vice president of story and 
vocational administration for Wamer Brothers, walks my script into a 
producer's office, they see the color of his skin, ask about the color of mine, 
and expect a homeboy story, not a western or a sci-fi screenplay. Still. I 
believe that if I were a white male writer I'd still have a problem because my 
work is considered left of the mainstream — politically, philosophically, and 
spiritually." 

Denise Pendleton, 33, an independent producer who worked for Motown 
Productions for seven years, is the first and only black woman to produce 
programming for pay-per-view cable. "If a black woman gets a chance to 
make a movie, it won't be about sluttin'. That's not the way we see 
ourselves." 




Short on cash, Daresha Kyi played director and star (as well as cook) 
for her award-winning film Land Where My Fathers Died. 

Courtesy Women Make Movies 

Says Cheryl Dunye. 25. an independent filmmaker and video artist, in 
reference to the crop of recent homeboy films like Juice, Han°in' with the 
Homeboys. and Boyz n the Hood. "All blacks aren't working their way up 
from the ghetto, struggling and facing hardship." Zeinabu irene Davis, 30, 
an independent filmmaker and associate professor at Northwestern Univer- 
sity, contends, "The homeboy movies present a very myopic vision of what 
black film is. It's not amale versus female thing. There is a very specific type 
of movie that is being put out right now." Parkerson agrees. "Certain 
filmmakers like Charles Burnett and Wendell B. Harris, Jr. aren't getting the 
attention that the makers of homeboy movies are. It doesn't cut down the 
gender line." 

"We don't need to change ourselves, but we can work toward changing 
the way we are perceived," says Pendleton. And so they are. both in front 
of and behind the camera. Michelle Crenshaw is an independent producer 
and cinematographer (Skin Deep. The Contract) who has worked as a 
camera assistant on independent projects like Eyes on the Prize II and Who 
Killed Vincent Chin'.', as well as on a number of Hollywood features, 
including Home Alone. Babe, and Mo' Money. Crenshaw says she won't 
even put herself out for a job unless she is absolutely positive that she can 
do it. "It's hard for me to be accepted as an equal [in Hollywood]. Both white 
men and women have a hard time accepting a black woman on the set. And 
while men are given the opportunity to make mistakes, women are not." 
Parkerson adds, "Black women rarely have the luxury of an apprenticeship. 
For us. every film is critical." As Pendleton says, "Black women filmmakers 
are only as strong as the weakest link." 

Dunye, who is creating a body of work about the black lesbian experi- 
ence, feels that black lesbians have been disenfranchised. "We are grouped 



MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 19 




with black gay men," says Dunye. "but I'm not a black gay man. My 
experiences and stories are different." 

Kyi experienced another form of discrimination when she tried to enter 
the commercial film industry in New York. "I had worked in the indepen- 
dent film community for 1 1 years, but nobody knew me in the commercial 
industry. Commercial filmmakers felt that my independent skills wouldn't 
translate. And I just thought, wait a minute. I can make an entire film by 
myself, but I don't have the skills to help you make a commercial?" 

Scharres believes these double standards are magnified for black women 
directors. "If a man directs an exploitation film and then goes after some 
other kind of film, it shows that he is enterprising. But if a woman directs 
a certain kind of film, it would mean that she could only do that one thing. 
In addition, if a white man directs a film, it is seen as having overall appeal. 
But if a black woman directs a film, it is perceived as having a specialized 
audience." According to Kyi, Hollywood doesn't seem to know what to do 
w ith the films of black women directors. 

It's no wonder that when Julie Dash began shopping her newly com- 
pleted feature. Daughters of the Dust, around Hollywood looking for 
national distribution, she couldn't get a deal. Dash says, "They had never 
seen a film like Daughters. They wanted to see black people as they know 
them, doing things and saying things in a manner in which they had seen 
before." Scharres says it comes down to money. "If the distributors thought 
there was a demand for such a film, they would put money into it. But it 
hasn't been proven that there is an audience for such a movie," because such 
a film has never been made or distributed before. Sounds like a catch 22. 

Daughters is the first major translation to film of the aesthetic found in 
the literature of contemporary black women writers, such as Toni Morrison, 
Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, and Gloria Naylor. Dash sees it as a 
general audience film because "it's about family and the carrying forward 
of traditions, religious beliefs, and social mores from generation to genera- 
tion. And everybody has a family." When it was shown as part of the 
Blacklight Film Festival in Chicago last August, it played to sold-out 
crowds, and even though an additional show was added, more than 100 
people were turned away. Daughters sold out in similar showings in 
Germany and in Oakland, but national distributors were still not convinced 
that there was a real market for such a film. 

Dash believes that white men — those who make decisions about distri- 
bution — have problems watching women's movies. "A lot of men had a 
problem with Thelma and Louise" says Dash. "The way I see it, when you 
watch a movie you either role play or disengage. And most white men don't 
want to be a black woman for two hours. It's two hours too long. But they 



African American women directors offer a new 
take on love relationships, as in this fantasy scene 
from Zeinabu irene Davis' A Powerful Thang. 

CourtesyWomen Make Movies 



will spend those same two hours being a homey, 
because it's a male fantasy and they can walk out 
of the theater without worrying about getting shot." 
Dash eventually signed Daughters with an in- 
dependent distributor. Kino International. Accord- 
ing to Scharres, such a move was the best an 
independent could make, because small indepen- 
dent films sometimes get lost within large compa- 
nies. Witness Charles Burnett's To Sleep with 
Anger. "Sometimes the films are seen as tax write- 
offs and never handled properly," says Scharres. 
"But an independent distributor's livelihood is 
based on a film like Julie's being a success, and they will do everything they 
can to make sure it's a success. They aren't handling Julie Dash on one end 
of the spectrum and Steven Spielberg on the other. Julie Dash is their Steven 
Spielberg." 

The black women closest to making major studio films are those who 
developed their directing skills through primetime television. Affirmative 
action and a 25 percent black primetime audience market share helped black 
women move into the areas of writing and directing for television. 

Actress/choreographer/television director Debbie Allen (Fame. A Dif- 
ferent World) currently has film projects in development at both Paramount 
and Wamer Bros. Neema Barnette, the first black women to direct a 
primetime television sitcom, has directed episodes of The Cosby Show, 
China Beach, A Different World, and Frank's Place. She recently signed a 
three-picture deal with Columbia Pictures. But she remains cautious about 
her new status. 

"Frank Price at Columbia really wanted to do a movie with me. He kept 
offering me these Beach Blanket Bingo-type films, and I wasn't interested. 
Finally, at one of these meetings they asked me what I wanted to do. I pitched 
a film I was writing with my husband called The Guide in five sentences. 
And the next thing I knew, I signed a three-picture deal with Frank Price. But 
Price is now no longer with Columbia. My film is scheduled to go into 
production this spring, and I've decided to make the film regardless." 

Barnette experienced a similar chain of events when she was set to do her 
first feature a few years ago, an adaptation of Sharon Bell Mathis' Listen for 
the Fig Tree. David Puttman, who had started a minority producers program 
at Columbia, was out and Dawn Steele was in. Barnette 's black Kwanzaa 
classic was shelved. 

It is exactly this fickleness that has led some black women directors to 
bypass Hollywood entirely. Even though black women have films in 
development in Hollywood, one has yet to be produced. 

Dash began developing Daughters of the Dust in 1976 while she was a 
scriptwriting fellow at AFI. She used grants from numerous sources, 
including the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the 
Arts, and a Rockefeller Fellowship, to shoot a trailer. Lynn Hoist of 
American Playhouse saw it and agreed to fund the 1 1 3-minute feature to the 
tune of $650,000. with CPB adding another $150,000. 

Ayoka Chenzira, who has directed a number of documentaries and 
animated films, didn't even consider Hollywood funding for her first 
feature, Ya So Dey So: A Love Story, currently in progress. Nor did Zeinabu 
irene Davis for her 57-minute feature A Powerful Thang, about a day in the 
life of an African-American couple. 



20 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



"I was lucky I got out of California," says Davis. "I wasn't able to raise 
any money for my film there. But once I got to Ohio, I was able to get funding 
through a number of grants. I also received a $35,000 Rockefeller award." 
Davis shot/l Powerful Thang for about $90,000. "To fund my film I also did 
the Spike Lee number. I sold T-shirts, postcards, and posters. I sold videos 
of my film Cycles for $20 each. I tried everything, and I have to say selling 
T-shirts works," she admits. 

Daresha Kyi used a similar strategy to fund her 24-minute award- 
winning film Land Where My Fathers Died, in which she starred. "It was 
raise the money, cook the food, feed the crew, jump back in front of the 
camera." Funding for this piece about the damaging effects of alcoholism 
on the family came through two New York State Council on the Arts grants, 
an Art Matters grant, and a grant from the Women in Film Finishing Fund, 
which allowed Kyi to complete postproduction. The budget for the film 
came in at just under $40,000, but Kyi depended on a lot of volunteer crew 
help to make the film so inexpensively. 

Camille Billops, a documentary filmmaker and visual artist, says, "When 
I begin conceptualizing a film, I also start thinking of how to get the money. 
It's like when you think about eating. You don't think about eating a cow, 
but rather a steak. So I see myself receiving my money in small pieces." 
Billops is currently raising $70,000 to fund her film The KKK Boutique Ain ' t 
Just Rednecks, which "examines the dynamics of everyone's racism." In 
addition to applying for grants she is selling 3,000 posters of her artwork for 
$10 each to raise funds. 

Michelle Crenshaw is able to fund her independent work from the money 
she earns working on Hollywood features. Her short Skin Deep is an 
autobiographical piece about a young African American girl's confronta- 
tion with racism. 

Michelle Parkerson, who was one of the 1 1 women recently accepted into 
AFI's Directing Workshop for Women, believes 
that subject matter may be one of the key factors 
in determining how long it will take to raise funds 
for a project. She has spent four years with Ada 
Griffin raising money for a documentary on Audre 
Lorde, a black lesbian, poet, activist, and cancer 
survivor. But she was able to get grants immedi- 
ately to do a documentary on black women in the 
ministry. 

Subject matter is another reason that black 
women look outside Hollywood. Some of the 
stories they want to tell aren't seen as Hollywood 



material. According to Gloria Gibson-Hudson, assistant director of the 
Black Film Center/Archive and assistant professor of Afro-American 
studies at Indiana University, "Black women filmmakers are putting out 
messages that haven't been put out before." 

The main difference is the focus of the films — black women. "While no 
one film can reflect the diverse realities of a particular group — and black 
women constitute a diverse group — there is a thread that goes through and 
penetrates each woman in the group," says Gibson-H;idson. "Black women 
filmmakers address with honesty a wide range of issues that relate to 
everyday life and cultural identity. There is usually a metamorphosis of the 
main character, and a message to us all that we should be a different person 
tomorrow." 

Barnette's goal in her work is to be true to black people, "because selling 
out only means delay. If we don't think positively of ourselves, how on earth 
can we expect others to do so?" she asks. "Those of us in the position to make 
a difference in the way we are perceived as a people have a very special 
responsibility. Our work must act as a mirror reflecting truth and correcting 
distortions." 

"I've been labeled as experimental, but I don't know if I accept that," says 
Davis. "My philosophy is that film is a cinematic language, and just as 
blacks have created new musical languages like jazz, blues, and rock and 
roll, I think that we do the same with cinema." 

Billops, together with husband and coproducer/codirector James Hatch, 
chooses to do films that others won't do. "I'm interested in what's in- 
between and what's not discussed and seen." Her film Suzanne Suzanne 
looks at addiction and abuse. Older Women in Love examines relationships 
between older women and younger men. And Finding Christa explores the 
filmmaker's decision to put her four-year-old daughter up for adoption in 
1962. 



Making the most of her "triple 

negative" — as a black, a queer, 

a woman — videomaker Cheryl 

Dunye puts positive images of 

black lesbians on screen. 



Courtesy filmmaker 




MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 21 




Camille Billops' Finding Christa, about her reunion with the 
daughter she gave up for adoption at age four, shared the 
Documentary Grand Prize at Sundance this year. 

Courtesy Filmmaker 

"Out of multiculturalism there has grown a realization that there are other 
groups of people making films and an awareness that their work is valuable. 
We are seeing a focus on groups like blacks, or lesbians and gays," says 
Gibson-Hudson. "These films are entertaining. They "re showing a different 
perspective. And they aren't just for blacks or for lesbians and gays." 

"I'm riding in that gap of change from affirmative action to 
multiculturalism," says Cheryl Dunye, whose 24-minute She Don't Fade 
has been screened at festivals around the world. The video presents some of 
the first positive images of black lesbians loving each other. Dunye mixes 
humor and storytelling to get her political, social, and cultural messages 
across. 

"I've been able to take advantage of my triple negative," says Dunye. 
"Like other marginalized groups, I've been in the spotlight. But I'm not the 
one turning the switch on and off. I'm not the one deciding what stories are 
being told and who else will be in the spotlight." 

Aarin Burch's first film, also about black lesbians, did well in festivals 
here and abroad. Her recent film Spin Cycle, an autobiographical work in 
which the 27-year-old filmmaker ruminates about her relationships, is also 
being well received. Burch believes she has been successful because 
"people are so hungry for works by black women, and black lesbians in 
particular." 

Both Dunye and Burch, who have screened their films and videotapes 
mainly at lesbian and gay festivals, wonder if their work will be able to cross 
over to straight audiences. Burch's latest work concentrates on artists like 
herself who are bi-racial. Dunye's most recent work is an autobiographical 
look at her relationship with her mother, called Love Me Mother. 

Given the nontraditional subject matter of their work and the increasing 
across-the-board cuts in public arts funding, black women filmmakers find 
themselves in a difficult position. Scharres suggests that all filmmakers put 
their energy into being smart rather than depressed about the situation. 
Parkerson believes that filmmakers "shouldn't get sucked into the indepen- 
dent versus mainstream dichotomy. The division is narrowing. Because 
there are more venues, it's not just a studio system anymore." Michelle 
Mattere, associate director of Women Make Movies, believes "black 



women filmmakers need to create a network in which we support each 
other's work." Dunye believes that if black women filmmakers start an 
organization where everyone works together, more will be accomplished. 
"We need to get over that independent auteur mentality that has been thrown 
on us by Hollywood," says Dunye. 

"We need to have black women working in different areas," says Davis. 
"I'd love to work with a black woman cinematographer. I'd like to see more 
film criticism written by black women. We need to be involved in all areas 
of film production, promotion, and distribution — not just directing." 

"It's hard to say if Hollywood will remain the center of activity or just 
become a clearing house for projects independently produced for cable, 
video, theatrical release," says Chatman. "But we will begin to see more 
films produced that cost less." Adds Mattere, "As Hollywood realizes that 
films that look like Julie's can be made for under one million dollars, then 
the doors will begin to open." 

"Black women are positioning themselves in places where their work can 
be screened more, and where they can affect change," says Gibson-Hudson, 
who considers academia to be among the most important of such places. 
"The American public needs to be educated," says Pendleton. "Men laid this 
foundation, and we really need to be in the classrooms to undo it." Both 
Davis and Chatman now teach at Northwestern University. Parkerson, who 
has taught at a number of institutions, will also be teaching at Northwestern 
this spring. Crenshaw is an instructor at Columbia College in Chicago, and 
Chenzira teaches at City College of New York. 

"In academia you have creative and financial stability. You also have 
control over your life," says Chatman, currently director of Northwestem's 
new Creative Writing for the Media Program. She recalls, "I left Hollywood 
because as a TV writer I wasn't able to contribute in a way that was com- 
mensurate with my abilities. I was so busy having a career that I couldn't 
write personal pieces. There is little creative freedom — although I was able 
to create the character of the black cowboy for the Young Riders television 
series. 

"I'm a refugee from the sixties, and being in the classroom allows me to 
contribute to people's lives. I am influencing future filmmakers," Chatham 
continues. "When they begin working in the film industry, they will actually 
think about black women because today they are being taught by one." 

"At Motown I had a job. I was not in control," says Pendleton. "I think 
it is important that black women get into positions of power so that we can 
begin to make some changes. We need to stop whining and do something 
about our situation. I left Motown because I was tired of being afraid. Being 
safe got me nowhere. With pay-per-view cable I have real numbers in 
dollars and cents to show what kind of money my work produces. You can ' t 
touch that." 

For Barnette, one of the most important things that a black woman 
filmmaker can do is to have a sense of history. "If we know where we've 
been and where we are today , then we'll know where we're going," she says. 
"It is most important for us to set our own standards and be true to our own 
vision." 

Yvonne Welbon is a filmmaker and writer who lives in Chicago. 



22 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



CAROLEE SCHNEEMANNN 



In 1965 Carolee Schneemann, a painter, performance artist, and originator 
of "Kinetic Theater," embarked on her first film. Schneemann' s Fuses 
became an early landmark in feminist filmmaking. Intending to present a 
woman's view of intimacy and erotic sex, Schneemann shot sequences of 
herself and her lover in bed, interspersed with ocean scenes and images of 
ordinary domestic events. She burned, cut, glued, layered, and edited the 
film for two years, building a fluid collage of what she describes as 
"imagery compounded in emotion." 

Twenty-four years later, Schneemann was invited to bring Fuses to the 
Moscow Film Festival. It was to be screened as part of a sidebar entitled 
Sexuality in American Film, organized by the San Francisco Film Society 
in conjunction with the American! Soviet Kino (ASK) initiative. 

^ULY'S STARS BLAZE. LIGHTS WITHIN THE 6,000 DULL GLASS RECTANGLES 

of the Hotel Rossiya are extinguished. Somewhere behind us a Los Angeles 
film executive passes a guard five US dollars, pushing through the iron gate 
to take his midnight plunge into the feathery blue Moscow river. The sound 
of his long body breaking the glassy surface is explosive. 

Ahead the Hotel Rossiya shimmers, pierced on its four symmetrical sides 
by 6,000 windows, 6,000 rooms. The Mezzanine Terrace Restaurant is 
mobbed. We push into a babble of languages, squeezed between flutters of 
fabric, colors, textures, perfumes. The gypsy orchestra plays rock and 
rock — Stevie Wonder, heavy on the violins. A Bengali film director is 
bribing a waiter for bottles of champagne. The Berlin film producer presses 
dollar bills into a waiter's hand, and a table and chairs materialize for his 
group. Vladimir and I drink the burning shots of vodka passed around and 
then join the shrieking dancers. 

On the opening night of the Moscow Film Festival, Fuses is screened as 
a short following Heavy Petting by Obie Benz. The audience seems stunned; 
not a chair squeaks. Vladimir, assigned by the festival to be my personal 
translator, is transfixed. I feel his breath move with the film cuts, all the risks 
it represented in 1 965 renewed in this hushed Moscow theater 24 years later. 

The next morning we meet in the lobby. "Vladimir, I've been trying to 
phone you. T ve been here only one day and the phone in my room is dead!" 

"Moscow joke! Don ' t worry, " he says. "/' ve been here 35 years and this 
morning my phone is also dead. " 

It's an easygoing sort of chaos trying to find out which films are showing 
where and when. Notices appear and disappear, like the piles of rubble left 
around building projects. 

Moscow joke: Our workers always leave some piles of debris so the cold, 
characterless consistency of the new apartments have an organic reminder 
nearby of life's impeifections. 

In the Hotel Rossiya lobby everyone involved in the Moscow Film 
Festival mills about, looking for someone or being looked for. Film 
directors, famous and unknown, entrepreneurs, journalists, photographers, 
actors, actresses from all over the world — all suffer the indignity of 
squeezing past each other through the only open door where a guard firmly 
checks the IDs hanging on strings around our necks. 



We are looking up at the walls with today's sidebar film listings. In 
addition to its opening night screening, Fuses was supposed to run repeat- 
edly as a short throughout the one- week festival. All the titles for Sexuality 
in American Films are listed in both English and Russian — except Fuses. 

"Vladimir, my film isn't on the schedule for this afternoon! Let' s go to the 
office and ask." 

"They say they don't know." 

"But they typed the program." 

"Wait here, they're calling the movie house.... They said, 'The projector 
is broken.'" 

"Vladimir, go back please. Ask them how can there be only one 16mm 
projector in Moscow, film capital of the Soviet Republic, during the 
International Film Festival." 

He goes to the telephone once more. "They said, 'That is a very clever 
question.'" 

Meeting many young English-speaking translators, writers, teachers, 
and artists, I sense a gender split. Among the men, there is a shared irony and 
skepticism. But among the young women, sadness, cynicism, and despera- 
tion dominate. They face an almost certain defeat of creative identity: 
highly-educated women do not make proportionately higher salaries; mar- 
riages are compressed in assigned housing and suffer all the woes reported 
in the western press — lack of space, etc. Women anticipate the prospect of 
a rigorous job, raising children often all on their own, and the struggle to 




Stills from Carolee Schneemann's Fuses (1965) 

Courtesy filmmaker 



MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 23 




provide for daih sustenance. Ambiguit>. metaphor, irony, layers of per- 
sonal and historical meaning move smoothly in intense conversations. At 
home. I disbelieved much of w hat I read about the Soviet Union, mistrusting 
il as exaggerated grimness. uhile m\ Russian friends believed the veiled 
information they received on Western society — shaded luxury, greed, 
plentitude. indulgences of creative and material possibilities. With per- 
estroika, many of the intelligentsia travelled to Europe and the States for the 
first time. The\ say, "It is exactly as I imagined." 

I pester \ ladimir with questions about managing with scarcities. He tells 
the domestic joke of his week. The good news: His grandfather (a retired 
mathematician ) stood in line for three hours to purchase three bars of soap 
for the family. The bad news: Although the grandfather also waited in 
another line for several hours, he could not get any toilet paper. The good 
news: Even though they have not had any toilet paper for months . now when 
they wipe with their fingers, they can wash off with the new soap. 

This is an economy in which soap, tampons, condoms, toilet paper, 
diapers, and underwear are usually unavailable. The demeaning daih 
struggle exhausts even, one. How can I discuss an equitable, expressive 
sexual it\ in « hich neither partner is subject nor object — a female examina- 
tion of erotic intimacy — and not have it seem a luxury? 

Moscow joke: Many friends and visitors bring gifts of Walkmen and 
music cassettes— but we have no batteries to run them. 

Moscow joke: When light bulbs burn out and there are none to replace 
them, we read by the light of the 71 . 

This absence of consumer goods in the Soviet Union underscores the 
erotic materialism with which the US economy diverts both political will 
and social engagement and measures social function. For us indulgence in 
the consumer economy is an erotic act and a contribution to an illusory 
societal well-being. Our consumer culture provides levels of expressive- 
ness — a connection to products as artifacts with which we can involve and 
satisfy our essential needs and nonessential desires. In the Soviet Union, 
there is no such relief or distraction from a grim, boring struggle to provide 
for basic needs. Capitalism and communism stand like inverted hourglasses 
draining sands of gross profusion, gross scarcity. 

"Vladimir, let's go to the office and ask what' s going on today. " Sveltana 
greets me. "How's your room? Are you enjoying yourself? We are typing 
Vladimir's Russian translation of the critics' notes on Fuses, as you 
requested. Yourfdm is definitely scheduled for midnight tomorrow- at the 
cultural center: no problem." 

Vladimir manages to arrange for TV crews and journalists to meet w ith 
us at each scheduled screening of Fuses. We will have interviews about the 
film process if it's shown, or concerning CQr\sov%h\^lperestroika if it is not. 
I continue my reading of the Introduction to Marxism pamphlets given me 
by the Soviet airline Aeroflot. Alone on the narrow bed in the narrow room, 
my mind spins between reform and repression, repression and reform. 

Tumbling backwards, what is being censored? Where does my will to 
demystify intersect with their will to posit psychotic taboos as normal, 
sexual repulsion as idealization? 

Every thing seems familiar but results from a different historical event. 
Perestroika may invite its version of "a thousand flowers to bloom." and 
reactionary forces — as close under the surface of change as those in 
China — could emerge to punish the persons and institutions effecting 



liberalization. There may be a happier spirit these days in Moscow, but its 
translucent underside admits the Russian "dark soul." They have no faith. 
no optimism. The attempted censorship of Fuses remains a small index of 
the wavering forces for liberalization. 

We were walking in a large park — lovely, gloomy. A young couple passed 
us. arm in arm. She was wearing navy blue shorts. Our Moscow friends are 
debating: "She's foreign." "No. Russian!" "She must be foreign." "No. 
you can do that now ." "What? Walk arm in arm?" "Until last year she 
would have been arrested for wearing shorts — indecent exposure." 

At home facing the cliffs I can write anything I wish about this trip to 
Russia. Even though Fuses is a small fish in the festival pond, it causes 
consternation, conflict. I am considered "a pornographer" and "a dangerous 
woman." 

"Vladimir, here' s the program for tonight. Fuses isn't listed." 

"Wait for me in the dining room; I'll go find out. ..They said. 'Don't 
worry, this isn't the final program.'" 

The bed is narrow as a child's bed. Arms enfold me. a body stretches 
beside mine. His shadow rising, whispers in English. "I must go home now." 

I try to guess how far he must walk to reach the family apartment. Small 
room cluttered with books, manuscripts, journals, dumbbells, music cas- 
settes. Later that week we hear about the raid on the hotel. Young women. 
without proper ID cards — called "prostitutes" — have managed to sneak 
past the guards to be lovers with foreign men in the film festival. The police 
arrested many of them. Have Russian men been arrested recently for being 
in the room of a foreign woman after 1 1 p.m.? 

Soviet joke: Everyone agrees we need better sex education and freer 
pleasurable sexuality to help the many marriages which flounder on sexual 
repression. Birth control is a key. but there are no condoms or I.U.D.s or 
spermicide or.... 

What radical economic changes can avert the grinding contradictions 
even one endures? 

"\ ladimir. we ' ve invited all those artists and journalists and the film isn ' t 
listed on tonight's schedule!" 

Til get you a vodka, wait here for me on the stairs. ..They said. The 
projector is being fixed — tomorrow, no problem." 

Fallen down on the rough green carpet which wraps the length of 6.000 
identical rooms. So drunk — imagine we are spinning into a resort hotel by 
the sea in a forgotten part of the world where I've never been, this best friend 
at my side, devoted, stolid, caring, whose shoulder my hair falls over: he is 
holding my hands so I will not fly out the window, who knows we could be 
arrested prostitution, for "uncivil behavior" lying here on the sixth floor 
hallway of the Hotel Rossiya — our lips merging in an unexpected gesture 
of glasnost. 

Moscow joke: How do you know your business deal is underway with a 
Lithuanian? When he tells you. "Don't worry, your check is in my mouth 
and I won' t come in your mailbox." 

Moscow joke: Do not ask more than two questions a day — it will 
overburden the system. 

Behind the sharp, ironic perceptions of my Russian friends, a deep 
Western influence merges with Russian metaphysical traditions to fuel 
profound longings: to be released from paranoia and punishing conse- 
quence, to express convictions, passions which were life-threatening for the 



24 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 




past 70 years. It is impos- 
sible for us to realize 
Stalinist terror. The sup- 
pression left not one per- 
son, place, or thing un- 
scathed. How do they now 
contemplate a life of un- 
changed economic scarcity and hardship with a new frankness or creative 
expressiveness? All this produces an odd social atmosphere of tension and 
graciousness. (Last night in my little red-walled room, his legs layered 
across mine, Vladimir exclaimed, "I feel relaxed! This might be the first 
time I've felt relaxed since I was a child in the Ukraine!" We drink another 
vodka to soften the contradictions.) 

Back in the US, friends say, "Well, if it's like that, why don't they rebel?" 
I tell them what the Lithuanian rock drummer told me in the airport on his 
way to an unprecedented gig at Lincoln Center: "For 70 years they fought 
and destroyed, fought and destroyed. Nothing was left intact, nothing. They 
never found a compromise. They never achieved a concept which was not 
destruction. They never made a positive step." 

Moscow joke: See that huge office building in the center of our city? Do 
you notice that it has two symmetrical sides with different facades? How 
curious; why is that? The architect took two designs to Stalin for his choice. 
Stalin was very busy, he looked down at the layout and said, "Fine. " Unable 
to have another interview, the architect built half of each design. 

The legislated "equality" of women in the Soviet Union has been used 
against them — to standardize their social and maternal contributions, just as 
artists have been required to fulfill social realism to idealize the State 
mythology if they are to participate in any of the rewards of the State: a 
studio, relatively decent housing, positions with reasonable salaries, etc. 
Female "equality" has been defined by a sexist, male-dominated, authori- 
tarian society. Feminist analysis, which has exposed and dismantled sup- 
pressive male cultural traditions in the West, is only now resurfacing in the 
Soviet Union after a hiatus of 40 years. During the Russian Revolution, 
women's rights were legislated: equal pay for equal work, guaranteed child 
care, maternal leave, abortion on request. But with all they lost in the Second 
World War, the Soviets also lost connection to Western cultural contexts, 
including the exploration of human sexuality as evinced in the works of 
Freud, Reich, Jung, as well as Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and 
other feminists. So this innocent "pornographer" or "dangerous woman" 
introduces echoes of early Russian radicalism. Where did it get them back 
then? Only greater repressions, as if such consciousness stirs fascist self- 
righteousness to greater justification and outrage. As recent critics have 
written about Jesse Helms' attempted suppression of erotic art, we are 
looking at the same thing, but seeing completely different things. 

Moscow joke: What's the difference between Romania and Auschwitz? 
In Auschwitz they had gas and light! (Treading our way down four flights 
of broken stone stairs with no light whatsoever from the apartment of a 
celebrated film director.) 

At the PROCC cultural center a crowd mills around the ticket desk and 
swirls away. Vladimir's face is turning red, his eyes enlarged. "What's 
going on now?" I ask, my skin prickling. 

"Look at this!" he shouts. Posted on the wall, the program of tonight's 



midnight showing has an X drawn across it. "Yes, that showing is can- 
celed," says the helpful young woman at the desk. 

Tiny Mme. Lavritskaya (director of Soviet Sexual Education Programs), 
who considers me a "pornographer," is pushing through the crowd. She's 
probably responsible for this, I think, glowering down at her; but she is 
genuinely alarmed, stunned, asking Vladimir in Russian, "What's hap- 
pened to the film screening?" Video crews, journalists are setting up lights 
around me. Get me double vodka now. Get the print of Fuses in my hands 
before there is any interview or discussion; I will not leave this building until 
I have my print. If they produce the print I will not be photographed here in 
front of these degraded, suppurating oil paintings of nudes (females of 
course). And I want an explanation for the cancellation. Vladimir agrees, 
"In a bureaucratic cultural center like this, there ' s a bureaucrat to be found." 

/ HAVE LEFT VLADIMIR WITH ALL MY BOOKS AND MAGAZINES, TINS OF 

sardines, herrings, vodka, and chocolates from the special store for foreign 
currency. He's planned a network of journalist friends traveling in Europe 
who will forward his letters to me in the States and has given me an address 
where I can write to him with less chance of my letters disappearing. He 
hugged me, held me, pushed me into the lines straggling towards inspection 
and the departure gate. The flight will be on Pan Am, not Aeroflot. The hours 
and the crowd seep into disjunctive, exhaustive delays. Leaving my place 
on the floor, I struggle through crowds to get a bottle of water, but there is 
no more. Only the Americans settle down on the floor, leaning their shiny 
heads on each other's hips and rucksacks, accepting the delay of one hour, 
two hours, three hours, as nap time. 

The overt attempt to censor Fuses — as if it among all the "sexual" films 
were "too much" — differs from the classic response in the US: the implicit 
suppression of rewards, recognitions withheld from those feminist artists 
who pioneered essential, lost meanings of the body. Nonetheless, I could 
describe a common paternalistic morality in which the loss of the sacred 
erotic and the lived experience of female sexuality are denigrated. I 
recognize the same male structures which disguise fantasies and which 
mask fears of the unconscious, the forces of nature, the female body. I 
recognize familiar posturing: the heroic at the expense of the domestic, 
authoritarian delusion at the expense of ecological common sense. 

Crushed into a line, entering the steel body, collapsed into the narrow 
seat. The steward down the aisle pushing a drinking cart asks, "Would you 
like juice? Apple, grapefruit, or orange?" Large unexpected tears begin to 
seep down my cheeks. I say, "Orange!" In two weeks I had completely 
forgotten such a drink. Balancing the juice, reaching for the headphones, 
clamping them on, I hear the voice of Bill Cosby trashing President Reagan. 
A flood of tears takes me by surprise. The plane taxis, lifts off. In my heart 
I am blessing my unknown Russian ancestors who long ago left this vast 
green sparkling expanse and whose leaving added to the random toss of my 
own life, so that I can depart Russia, having been an invited guest of the 1 989 
Moscow Film Festival and their own "pornographer and dangerous woman." 

Carolee Schneemann is a painter, filmmaker, and performance artist whose 
works address issues of feminism and sexuality. This year she had major 
kinetic installations at the Venice Biennale, the San Francisco Museum of 
Modern Art. and Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. 



/MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 25 



Our Bodies/ 
Our Camcorders 

Video and Reproductive Rights 



ELIZABETH LARSEN 



M\ THE SPRING OF 1988. JULIE CLARK. A GRADUATE STUDENT IN COMPARA- 

u\ e literature and adamant pro-choice supporter, was told by a someone in 
the New York University Women's Center that an new anti-choice group 
calling itself Operation Rescue had arrived in New York City. Launched 
one-and-a-half years earlier in Pensacola. Florida. Operation Rescue was 
planning to inaugurate its national crusade against abortion by staging huge 
blockades at clinics throughout the city. Operation Rescue supporters had 
flown in from all over the United States for the event. In response. Clark and 
about 25 other like-minded women met early one morning and followed the 
hundreds of Operation Rescue troops from their hotel to the streets of 
Manhattan's Upper East Side. Hoping that, with any luck, they could sprint 
ahead of the crowd of hymn-singing, flag-waving anti-abortionists and keep 
the clinic open. Clark and seven other members of her group struggled to the 
front of the demonstration only to find themselves pressed up against the 
door of the targeted clinic standing face to face with hundreds of Operation 
Rescuers. The scene was nothing short of utter mayhem, 'i was terrified." 
she remembers, 'i had an elbow in my back and a priest broke my friend's 
glasses. It was hand-to-hand combat." Shaken and angered. Clark felt that 
no one would believe what she had experienced without seeing it. So. with 
absolutely no background in film or video, she used the rest of her 
fellowship money to buy a video camera and begin documenting subse- 
quent attacks. 

In a country where America's Funniest Home Videos is a top-rated 
television program and most people think of video as a source of pleasure 
rather than power, it is a rare moment when someone other than a videomaker 
sees the medium as a potent tool that can be used to achieve activist goals. 
Were this any other issue, the daunting and repressive political atmosphere 
surrounding the debate and keeping all but stop-watch-balanced news 
reports off the air might be demoralizing enough to make independent 
video- and filmmakers pack up their social agendas and produce wildlife 
films. But. thanks to a burgeoning grassroots movement of pro-choice 
videomakers — many working collectively and in alliance with local repro- 
ductive rights groups — the threat to a woman's right to choose a safe and 
legal abortion will not be ignored. 

Although women have used video as a consciousness-raising and activist 
tool since the early 1970s, it has been only in the last few years that 
reproductive rights has gotten much attention from videomakers. In part, 
this time-lag can be attributed to the sense of comfort resulting from the 
Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973 — which ruled that a 
woman's right to choose to have an abortion is constitutionally protected as 
part of her right to privacy. Up until the late 1 980s. when abortion opponents 
and state legislatures began seriously undermining women's legal right to 
an abortion, feminist videomakers felt they could focus on other areas of 
concern. 

And so they did. According to Chela Sandoval, who was a member of one 
of the early women's video collectives, the Santa Cruz Women's Media 
Collective. "Abortion wasn't focused on the same way it is now." Instead. 



her collective, which was active throughout the seventies, produced docu- 
mentaries on related topics like "women and sexuality" and "women and 
health care." Sandoval points out that women's media collectives, like the 
one in Santa Cruz, were a vital arm of the women's liberation movement and 
could be found in almost every major urban area. They would show their 
programs and hold discussion groups in community centers, women's 
bookstores, universities, and on public access channels. 

By the 1980s the energy that went into these video collectives began to 
dissipate as members moved on to other jobs in media and elsewhere. Some 
entered academia. and the spark that was previously found in videomaking 
shifted to film theory, as many women who had originally achieved a sense 
of intellectual and practical empowerment in the video collectives formed 
discussion groups focusing on feminist film theory. According to Sandoval, 
"In the eighties there was an energy in the feminist film theory collectives 
which really moved thinking about media forward." 

The abortion debate muscled its way into feminist videomakers' agenda 
in the late eighties. In July 1988. just months after their attack in the New 
York City area. Operation Rescue gained national attention by blockading 
abortion clinics in Atlanta during the Democratic National Convention. 
Then, exactly one year later, the right to a legal abortion met a serious defeat 
when the Supreme Court upheld the restrictions on abortion in Webster v. 
Reproductive Health Services. The Court specifically upheld the state of 
Missouri's expensive and time-consuming requirement that all women 
seeking an abortion in a hospital that receives federal funding undergo a test 
to assess whether or not the fetus would be able to sustain itself outside the 
womb, thus placing an unfair financial burden on low income women. This 
decision, coupled with Operation Rescue's increasingly vociferous attacks, 
would prove to be the catalyst for many women's re-entry into the women's 
movement — and into using video as a part of their crusade for abortion 
rights. 

Surprisingly, mainstream abortion rights supporters like the National 
Organization for Women (NOW). National Abortion Rights Action League 
(NARAL). and Planned Parenthood haven't widely used video as a way to 
educate, inform, and advise people about reproductive rights. NOW has 
made two videos: one on the pro-choice march in Washington. DC. in April 
1989 and one commemorating NOW's twentieth anniversary. Planned 
Parenthood has made videos about condoms, birth control, and abortion. 
And the Fund for a Feminist Majority produced Abortion Denied and 
Abortion for Survival. These tapes are essentially in-house productions, 
with director and crew employed on a work-for-hire basis. 

Independent producer Karen Clay, who worked with the Women's 
Video Collective in Boston to make the video Our Bodies/Our Choice. 
suggests. "NOW and NARAL think that in order to use video it has to be a 
huge S35.000 project — instead of pulling together grassroots groups and 
efforts." Our Bodies Our Choice also documents the 1 989 march in Wash- 
ington (where, incidentally. NOW hired a man to make their documentary ). 
According to Clay, the 58-minute video would normally have cost approxi- 
mately S25.000 to produce. But because the collective members donated 
their time and received postproduction services for free, the biggest ex- 
penses were tape stock and transportation. Our Bodies Our Choice wound 
up costing less that S500. 



26 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 




ReproVision's Access Denied puts the 
abortion question in historical context, 
intercutting archival footage of women's 
healthcare with contemporary clips. 

Photo: Meryl Levin, courtesy ReproVision 



If video activists are working with any women ' s rights organizations, it's 
more likely to be smaller, grassroots groups like the Women's Health 
Action and Mobilization (WHAM!) in New York and the Bay Area 
Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR) in northern California. 
Both groups contain video collectives which document the organizations' 
demonstrations and produce pro-choice documentaries. Other video groups 
function separately. These would include the Women's Video Collective in 
Boston, the Media Coalition for Reproductive Rights in Buffalo, New York, 
and the Stand Up for Choice project in Washington, DC. 

One year after Julie Clark's violent encounter with Operation Rescue, 
she joined WHAM! Started after the Webster decision, this group of 
activists harnessed the energy of young New York women who, using ACT 
UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) as a model, decided to take to 
the streets with their pro-choice demands. While taping a clinic blockade, 
Clark met a woman named Dolly Meieran, who was also documenting such 
attacks as a way of convincing armchair activists that Operation Rescue 
meant business. 

Together with a third WHAM! member named Dana Nasrallah, Clark 
and Meieran started ReproVision. This video collective is affiliated with 
WHAM! in much the same way that Testing the Limits is the media 
production arm of ACT UP. ReproVision produced a popular pro-choice 
PSA, which the public access satellite network Deep Dish TV has been 
liberally mixing into its programming. Portions of ReproVision's This Is 
Not a Federal Preserve also appeared on Deep Dish TV's Behind Censor- 
ship: The Assault on Civil Liberties series last spring, in the program Who 
Owns This Body? The collective recently completed Access Denied, a 30- 
minute pro-choice tape which combines quick MTV-like cuts from Opera- 
tion Rescue blockades with interviews with women who have had abortions 
and archival footage showing historical images of women's healthcare. The 
result is an upbeat and compelling activist tool. 

By 1989, the Supreme Court decision in Webster, as well as the pro- 
choice march in Washington, had catapulted the abortion debate onto the 
nightly news. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media's adherence to 
"balanced" reporting frustrated many activists, who had a hard time 
believing that a group of people who violently prevented women from 
receiving legal health care deserved the credibility bestowed by press 
attention. 

Many videomakers started their projects in part as a way to provide the 



public with antidotes to what was being shown on 
the nightly news. Such was the case with A.C. 
Warden and Alix Litwack, producers of Stand Up 
for Choice, a four-part video documentary series 
on abortion clinic defense. According to Litwack, 
"Most of the images on television are fairly 
benign. The Operation Rescue people are shown 
sitting down, chanting or praying, looking almost 
beatific. But the reality of the situation is so 
different. It's violent and extremely noisy." 

These pro-choice videos have proved empow- 
ering to reproductive rights activists on a legal 
level, since they are often used as defense testi- 
mony in court cases where Operation Rescue has tried to sue a clinic 
defender on charges of battery. Stand Up for Choice. ReproVision, and 
BACORR have all given video footage to clinic lawyers for court proceed- 
ings. According to Helen Jones, a BACORR videographer, "With the 
videos, they acquit us in about 15 minutes." 

Using video for legal purposes has proven so effective that Operation 
Rescue has begun to make its own. "The most interesting case was when a 
[woman from BACORR] was accused of hitting a man from Operation 
Rescue in the face," Jones says. "They submitted a video, which shows her 
hitting him, without the sound. When our lawyers forced them to bring in 
the audio, it was clear that she was yelling, 'Let go of me! Let go of me! ' 
Well, it turned out that the man had his hands down low [out of the frame] 
and was holding on to her." 

Such BACORR tapes as the lively We Won't Go Back: Born Again 
Bigots, GO AWAY, which documents B ACORR's successful campaign to 
shut down Operation Rescue efforts in northern California, are shot with 
home video camcorders. In addition to their portability, the fact that 
videotape is considerably cheaper than film stock makes them popular with 
media collectives, many of which are entirely self-supporting. In addition, 
volunteer labor is easier to find when using video, and the finished product 
is more quickly accessible. "Film is a very beautiful art form," says Clay of 
the Women's Video Collective. "But with video cameras like the S-VHS 
you can do special effects while you are still [at the demonstration]. If you 
are creative enough, you can save a lot of postproduction time and costs. 
Also, when it's political work, instant accessibility is very important and 
video is great at capturing an event and bringing it into people's lives 
quickly." 

None of these collectives believe that their videos are made specifically 
to convert anti-abortionists to the pro-choice side. Rather, one of the 
primary goals for all of these video groups is to promote dialogue about 
abortion rights within a wide range of audiences. While ReproVision has 
absolutely no interest in swaying the opinions of a pro-life audience, they 
do not see their videos as preaching to the converted. "We made Access 
Denied to spur dialogue with people who are supposedly pro-choice but are 
maybe couch potatoes," says Clark. "We want it to draw more people into 
the abortion struggle as well as expand the definition of reproductive rights. 
There's a connection between the health care crisis, women's health care, 
the AIDS crisis, and the cutbacks by the United States government on 



MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 17 



Images can speak louder than words and more credibly 

in court, where video footage refuted Operation Rescue's 

fraudulent assault charges against clinic defenders. 

Courtesy BACORR 



Belying the benign TV images of Operation 
Rescue, the Stand Up for Choice project 
chronicles violent confrontation in The Blockade. 

Courtesy Stand Up for Choice 




women's reproductive freedom. By working together and linking these 
issues, people will begin to get a broader perspective, and perhaps we can 
all struggle together." 

Stand Up for Choice is aimed at the converted, namely women who are 
training to become clinic defenders and escorts. Seeing that there were no 
educational or training videos about clinic defense, coproducers Warden 
and Litwack developed four training videos that will help prepare defenders 
for the physical and emotional intensity of an Operation Rescue hit. 

Currently only The Blockade, a documentary of a typical Operation 
Rescue blockade, is complete. The other videos, which are also 1 5 minutes 
in length and are currently in varying stages of production, are Escort 
Training, on how to protect clinic patients from harassment: Clinic Defense 
Training, illustrating non-violent clinic-defense techniques: and Who Is 
Operation Rescue?, providing background information on this most vocal 
of the pro-life groups. Their final video, a half-hour documentary entitled. 
Abortion Rights — and Wrongs, will examine the current status of abortion 
rights and efforts to protect freedom of choice. 

Unlike Stand Up For Choice, the audience for videos by the now 
disbanded Buffalo-based Media Coalition for Reproductive Rights, which 
was active in 1989-90. was anyone who happened to stumble upon one of 
their programs on the local public access channel. "We figured that, with the 
exception of the people who had read our publicity notices scattered 
throughout the Buffalo pro-choice network, our viewers would just be 
flipping through the channels and come into the show halfway through, 
watch for a few minutes, and go onto something else," says former 
collective member and independent videomaker Chris Hill. As a result of 
the anticipated short length of viewing time, most of the programs were 
broken up into brief, often extremely humorous, thematic segments. A 
repeated text often ran across the bottom of the frame, providing informa- 
tion ranging from the fact that local policemen were extremely unsupportive 
of abortion clinic defenders during an Operation Rescue blockade to how to 
contact local pro-choice networks. 

The collective decided to use public access out of what Hill calls a deep 




conviction that "Women tend to talk privately about their reproductive 
histories, and these private conversations need to be made public." This 
sentiment is explored in both Hill's Reproductive Histories Update and the 
collectively produced Public Forum Solicitation Tape, for which home- 
made videos about abortion were actively solicited from viewers. When the 
group received only three tapes, it was forced to round out the series by 
producing five additional programs. Even though the collective members 
have since disbanded in order to pursue other projects, they remain active 
in the area of reproductive rights, curating video exhibitions on the subject 
for media centers in Buffalo. 

All the groups agree that the nonhierarchical emphasis on equal partici- 
pation, inherent in most any collective, is ideologically in keeping with the 
values of the women's movement. And. reflecting the multiplicity of voices 
within the movement, each collective is structured differently. On one end 
of the spectrum. Warden and Litwack coproduce the Stand Up for Choice 
project more as a partnership and get volunteers to do the actual shooting. 
On the other end are the members of ReproVision, who do all their own 
camerawork and must arrive at consensus decisions for every aspect of a 
project. Somewhere in the middle is the Media Coalition for Reproductive 
Rights. This collective shoots its own work, but unlike ReproVision, one or 
two members of the group supervise and make final decisions on individual 
videos. When Boston producer Karen Clay wanted to make Our Bodies/Our 
Choice, she approached the already existing Women's Video Collective 
because she felt that the values of the collective were in synch with those of 
the project. 

Contrary to certain stereotypes, working in a collective isn't composed 
soley of group hugs and endless support from fellow members. "Since it's 
a group effort rather than an individual statement, you have to check your 
ego at the door. Even though it's exhausting, it's worth it." Clay says. 
ReproVision 's Clark agrees that working collectively can at times be 
extremely demanding. "It's hard as hell when you disagree in the editing 
studio at 3 a.m." she says. "But we couldn't have done it by ourselves." Dana 
Nasrallah. also from ReproVision adds. "I think that working in a collective 
is analogous to what we're trying to do in the reproductive rights movement. 
We have a responsibility to our community and a responsibility to the 
collective, and in both we try to listen to other people and treat them the way 
we would like to be treated. Also, we're trying to represent a broad base of 
people, and we're a bunch of different minds out there collecting informa- 
tion. In a collective, that kind of representation becomes possible." 

While these collectives are big on energy, they are also, for the most part, 
short on funding. Most of the tapes are produced on very small budgets, 
often with collective members financing the projects out of pocket. On the 
low end. ReproVision made Access Denied for $6,500: on the higher end. 
the total budget for all five Stand Up for Choice videos is just under 
S250.000. While many of the groups have asked the mainstream organiza- 
tions like Planned Parenthood and NARAL for money, they have usually 



28 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 




been turned down (although the national organizations have been helpful in 
providing leads for possible interview subjects, information on anticipated 
Operation Rescue targets, and even lodging). As with most independent 
documentary projects, the groups write grants and rely on individual 
donations to pay for production costs. Foundations that have provided 
funding to these projects include the Roth Family Foundation, the General 
Service Foundation, Art Matters, Inc., and the Barbara Demming Memorial 
Foundation. 

Once the project is completed, finding a station to air it becomes an even 
more difficult task. So far, PBS has proved unhelpful in providing airtime 
for pro-choice pieces. With the exception of local public affairs programs 
and the national series P.O.V., which last season aired Julie Gustafson's 
even-handed Casting the First Stone, in which one community's pro-choice 
and pro-life advocates are profiled and explain their beliefs, PBS has not 
distributed an independently produced documentary about abortion since 
1985. 

So, with the exception of Deep Dish's transmissions via public access 
and a few cable channels like the Learning Channel, which showed This Is 
Not a Federal Reserve, not many projects are getting national viewership. 
Even high-profile public figures, like Sassy magazine editor and indepen- 
dent filmmaker Jane Pratt, have been unable to get their programs to air 
except on small, rarely-watched channels. Pratt made a public service 
announcement called Pro-Choice Is Pro-Life which was part of Direct 
Effect, a series of progressive PSAs funded and distributed by the Athens, 
Georgia-based independent production company Direct Impact. The PSA, 
shot in black and white, shows women of different ages, including actress 
Elizabeth McGovern, talking about why they support abortion rights. The 
spot ends with an older women saying, "Pro-choice is pro-life." 

With television not a real option, collectives have had to develop 
innovative grassroots distribution strategies. Stand Up for Choice has sold 
or made their tapes available to reproductive health care providers across the 
country. Both BACORR and ReproVision believe that keeping the price 
down and the tapes accessible is an integral aspect of their activist 



Mainstream abortion rights supporters such 
as NOW have commissioned videos only on 
rare occasions, such as the 1 989 pro-choice 
march in Washington, DC. 

Photo: Kattiy Davis, courtesy Women's Video Collective 




Puppets enact an encounter between an ad exec and the Bishop of the 
Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, in Barbara Lattanzi's A Bed-Time 
Story, part of a series by the Media Coalition for Reproductive Rights. 

Courtesy videomaker 



videomaking. For $15 or less, BACORR sells their tapes in street booths 
during pro-choice marches and clinic defense group gatherings. Likewise, 
with the money from fundraisers, ReproVision is sending out free or low- 
cost copies of Access Denied to activist groups across the country. 

Finally, the unique respect that each of these groups has for the others is 
extremely empowering, especially when one takes into account the fact that 
they must sometimes compete for a limited number of grants and distribu- 
tion offers. Like their videos, which emphasize how women can educate 
themselves about their own reproductive healthcare and reproductive 
rights, these groups encourage video novices to learn how to use the medium 
for political purposes. Just as Clark realized after that frigid spring day in 
1988, "There's nothing like the power of a camcorder in a woman's hand." 

Elizabeth Larsen is assistant editor at the Utne Reader and a freelance 
writer living in Minneapolis. 



MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 29 



TALKING HEADS 



A HUGE COUNTRY FULL OF FOREIGNERS 

Emiko Omori's Hot Summer Winds 



LUCILLE RHODES 



Chopstick customs go 

right with me. throughout my life 

in this knife-fork land. 

HOT SUMMER \\ l\DS 

"I totally rejected everything Japanese and didn"t 
want to have anything to do with it," recalls 
director/cinematographer Emiko Omori of her 
childhood years in the US. "Of course, the intern- 
ment camps didn't help. The Japanese language 
was violently and adamantly suppressed, and we 




A Japanese American vegetable farmer 
INatsuko Ohama, right) comes in conflict with 
her husband's traditional values when she 
pursues her love of writing in Emiko Omori's 
first fiction film, Hot Summer Winds.. 

Photo: Mitzi Tnjmbo, courtesy American Playhouse 



were "discouraged from congregating." So. for a 
long time. I wanted to be the total opposite." 
Despite these youthful sentiments. Omori's latest 
film. Hot Summer Winds, is infused with Japanese 
aesthetics and sensibilties. 

Hot Summer Winds, aired on American Play- 
house last May. is an hour-long drama set on a 
tomato farm in California in 1 934. It tells the story 
of a traditional Japanese immigrant family and the 
fissures that result when the wife begins to de- 
velop her talent as a haiku writer. Omori wrote and 
directed the film, which was produced by Wendy 
Balri Slicki and is based on two short stories by the 
acclaimed Japanese American writer Hisaye 
Yamamoto. It is told from the perspective of 10- 
year-old Yoneko (Tricia Joe), who relates how 
her mother. Hatsu Hosoume (Natsuko Ohama). 
flowered into a recognized writer of haiku. 



Yoneko recalls. "Mama was spending more 
and more time at her writing. She took her writing 
quite seriously. She even had a pen name — Plum 
Blossom. It reminded her of spring in Japan. 
Sometimes I could hear her pen scratching against 
the paper, late into the night." To Hatsu's amaze- 
ment, she takes first place in a local haiku contest, 
winning a delicate Japanese scroll drawing and 
the publication of her poem. 

Hatsu's success as a poet threatens her 
uneducated husband. Takahashi "Tex" (Sab Shi- 
mono), and their traditional Japanese marriage. 
The film touches on adultery, domestic violence, 
and abortion. It does so in the manner of Japanese 
director Yasujiro Ozu. whom Omori much ad- 
mires, with restraint and through domestic detail. 
Omori quietly observes the private moments that 
bring the couple to and then beyond their critical 
impasse. Hot Summer Winds is a pro-foundly 
compassionate work which could only be made 
by a director astutely atuned to Japanese sensibili- 
ties. 

Omori was born and educated in the United 
States. One of the parents who raised her is issei. 
or bom in Japan; the other is nisei, or born in the 
US of Japanese parents. She never visited Japan 
and does not know the language. Interested in 
exploring the source of her Japanese sensibility, I 
asked her about her origins and interest in Japa- 
nese art. 

At age one. she and her family were evacuated 
from their vegetable farm to an internment camp 
in the Arizona desert. "We were wiped out and 
had to stan from scratch. Before the war we were 
prospering." remembers Omori. After World War 
II the family resettled in the same area. 50 miles 
north of the Mexican border. Her mother died 
soon after. 

Omori's life has been diametrically opposite 
that of her ancestral female counterparts. Stand- 
ing just five feet tall, she has admirably succeeded 
in one of the most macho of technical profes- 
sions — cinematography. She was the first TV 
news camerawoman west of the Mississippi, get- 
ting a job with KQED's award-winning series 
Newsroom in 1968. Since 1972 she has been 
cinematographer on such noted independent docu- 
mentaries as Rosie the Riveter (by Connie Field). 
La Ofrenda: The Day of the Dead (by Lourdes 
Portillo and Susanna Mufioz). Caned in Silence 
(by Felicia Lowe), and Hopi. Songs of the Fourth 
World, and Hearts and Hands (by Pat Ferrero). 
She also worked with ethnographic filmmaker 



30 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



John Marshall on a series of health and nutrition 
videos for and with the bushman of the Kalahari in 
Africa and with French director Chris Marker on 
his segment for a 1 3-part series on Greek culture 
and philosophy called The Owl's Legacy. 

In addition to her work with independents and 
public television stations, Omori has also pro- 
duced and directed her own films for the past two 
decades. Prior to Hot Summer Winds — which is 
her fiction feature debut — Omori directed a short 
dramatic piece. The Departure (1984), and the 
documentary Tatoo City (1980), on tatoo artist 
D.E. Hardy. 

"Oddly enough, it was through tattooing that I 
rediscovered Japanese art," recalls Omori. "My 
tattooist, D.E. Hardy, was a scholar. He lined the 
walls of his studio with Japanese prints. We'd 
look at hundreds of prints and go to exhibitions 
when I was trying to choose an image." Omori had 
Hardy cover her entire back with a magnificent 
tatoo of a female pearl diver fighting fire-spitting 
sea dragons. 

"Also, I think that having grown up in a Japa- 
nese-oriented household did influence my aes- 
thetics," Omori reflects, "even though my par- 
ents, like those in my film, were peasant truck 
farmers. No matter what my step-mother served, 
she would slice it in a particular manner. She 
peeled the cucumbers decoratively for every meal. 
People would come over with Japanese tea pas- 
tries which they wrapped beautifully. Aesthetics 
and art are revered in Japan. Even the rice bowls 
and tea cups of the poorest are attractive." 

Japanese woodcuts clearly inspired the fram- 
ing of many scenes in Hot Summer Winds. Omori 
and her cinematographer, Stephen Lighthill, pay 
as much attention to what happens at the edge of 
the frame as in the center. Often the action is 
staged half-inside and half-outside the frame, 
constantly reinforcing the existence of the space 
beyond the visible image. Omori's work also 
includes more specific references. For instance, in 
Japanese prints the nape of the neck is often 
erotically featured. In the bathhouse scene in Hot 
Summer Winds, when Hatsu fantasizes about the 
new farmworker, wet hair and drops of water 
cling to the back of her neck as she draws a cotton 
kimono over her bare shoulders. 

Originally entitled Seventeen Syllables — in 
reference to the number that compose a haiku — 
Hot Summer Winds is itself like a poem. The story 
builds with little dialogue and short, evocative 
scenes. Like a haiku, the film evokes rather than 
dramatizes. An earthquake is indicated by crates 
of tomatoes falling to the bottom of a pond, which 
then rise slowly to the surface when calm ensues. 
For the love scene, a hand brushing hair from 
Hatsu's face suffices to suggest the amorous rela- 
tions that follow. 

"I was brought up with a respect for privacy," 
says Omori. "We don't need doors. We look 
away. In Japan, with its overpopulation, privacy 
was a state of mind. This notion pervaded my 
sensibilities in designing and directing the vi- 




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MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 31 



Yoneko comforts her husband, Tex (Sab 
Shimono), after he suffers a minor accident. 

Photo Mitzi Trumbo, courtesy Amencon Playhouse 



gnettes. The girl's little world is the cardboard 
pla\ box: the father's his shed. Even one has their 
own private place — and the mothers private place 
is her writing." 

This notion of privacy and discrete spaces 
informed Omori's choices, even when a more 
television-friendly shot offered itself. Omori re- 
calls how difficult it was to set up the moxa. or folk 
medicine remedy, scene in the bedroom. "Al- 
though I had a beautiful close-up which would 
pick up for television. I chose the distant shot 
of observation through the curtain." she says. 
Similarly, the characters often hesitate before 
entering another's physical or mental space. 

The film serves to introduce us not only to 
Japanese sensibilities and aesthetics, but also to 
the foods, apparel, and customs which the immi- 
grants successfully integrated into their new lives. 
Omori's script rarely explains unfamiliar terms or 
items. "I wanted to make a film where people were 
just living their lives, without the history lesson." 
We are simply asked to listen and observe. Daikans 
(Japanese radishes) hang out to dry. Hatsu serves 
tea pastries and buys tofu. An of wo, or Japanese 
bathhouse, and obutsudan, a Buddhist family 
altar, fit naturally into the farm's setting. 

In a larger sense the film speaks to concerns of 
men and women today. It is a feminist story of a 
women who asserts her right to self-expresssion 
against the forces of tradition. Challenged, the 
husband, Tex. is forced to change radically. At 
first he prohibits his wife's pursuit of haiku and 
bums her prized scroll. By the end of Hot Summer 
Winds, he acknowledges and supports her need 
and love for writing, presenting her with the gift 
of a haiku pen. He even cooks for his children. 
This is a profound break with Japanese tradition. 

Japanese and American characteristics merge 
seamlessly in Hot Summer Winds. Both Japanese 
wooden clogs and rugged American workboots 
suit Hatsu's daily life. The children eat with forks 
while the parents use chopsticks. The hot. dry. 
vast American West, always just outside the farm 
oasis, also has its effect on the family, encourag- 
ing resilience, self-reliance, and individuality. 

"I tried to put myself in the mind of someone 
coming here and how America looked to them." 
Omori explains. "Imagine the sense of freedom. 
In Japan life is very close and controlled because 
of overpopulation. Here you could be a little 
wilder." The poetry in Hot Summer Winds reflects 
an awe at the landscape's expansiveness: 




Shimmering and blue over the Montana 
grass 

the heat waves tremble. 

The road which I am to walk stretches 
without end. 

"When I was working on Home from the East- 
ern Sea. I had a revelation." Omori recalls of the 
documentary history on Asian Pacific Americans, 
coproduced by KCTS-Seattle and the Washing- 
ton Centennial Commission. "I realized that our 
narration talked about how Asians were set apart 
because they were different. For instance, the 
Chinese had queues [pigtales]. Well, what about 
how Americans looked to them? After that, we 
started talking about point of view ...about inside- 
out or outside-in. Then we changed the narration 



to say what it was like for an Asian person coming 
here at the beginning of the century. What did they 
see? Unshaven people living in hovels and eating 
big pieces of meat. Some Japanese left villages 
with running water and electricity. Japanese eat 
food in small slices cut for chopsticks." 

Hot Summer Winds reflects this immigrant 
vision as well. "Coming from Japan, a small 
island, and seeing a huge vista of land and fields, 
sparsely populated, must have been an amazing 
thing," muses Omori. As a young Japanese poetry 
editor in the film remarks. "The endless fields out 
here are amazing. As far as the eye can see, a huge 
country — full of foreigners." 

Lucille Rhodes is an independent filmmaker and 
professor of film history at C.W. Post Center, 
Long Island University. 




Director Emiko Omori 
(center) with her 
"Japanese family" from 
Hot Summer Winds. 

Photo: Mitzi Trumbo, courtesy 
filmmaker 



32 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



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MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 33 



Domestic 

CHARLOTTE HIM & VIDEO FESTIVAL. Apr. 28- 
M.i> 8. Ind. tllm-& videomakers working in US invited 
to *. ompeum e test u hich aw ards S3.000 minimum prize 
mone> Features & shorts completed after 1989 accepted. 
Cats: doc. narrative, experimental & animated. Last yr 
test screened 36 films from 3(H) entries. Sites incl. Mint 
Museum of Art. Spirit Sq. Ctr for the Arts, Afro- 
American Cultural Ctr. Public Library of Charlotte & 
Mecklenburg Count} & Manor Theatre. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm. 3/4", 1/2". Deadline: Mar. 9. Contact: Robert 
West, Charlotte Film & Video Festival, Mint Museum 
of An, 2730 Randolph Rd., Charlotte, NC 28207; (704) 
337- 2000. 

FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL. June 5-14. FL. Invitational 
expo of film at Enzian Theater focuses on film as art. 
Showcases 20 artists & invites int'l entries in animation 
(experimental, computer, traditional), doc. children's, 
avant-garde & experimental cats. Shorts programmed 
w/features. Incls awards, galas, seminars, showcases. 
Audience est. at 6.000. Formats: 35mm. 16mm. video 
(computer animation only); preview on cassette. 
Deadline: Apr. 1. Contact: Enzian Theater. 1300 S. 
Orlando Ave.. Maitland. FL 32751; (407) 629-1088; 
fax: (407) 629-6870. 

INTERNATIONAL HEALTH & MEDICAL FILM 
FESTIVAL. Oct. 12-17, CA. Formerly biennial John 
Muir Medical Film Festival, annual fest has become 
world's largest competition devoted entirely to medical 
& health-related audiovisuals, w/ screenings throughout 
SF Bay Area, nat'l satellite conferences & gala awards 
ceremony to be featured on Lifetime Medical Television 
& Discovery Network. Catalog is invaluable resource 
for locating latest health & medical films. Embracing 
mainstream & alternative approaches, 800 entries 
expected in 1992 in 40 cats, incl. programs targeting 
health professionals & consumers. Entry fees: $75-200. 
Formats: 35mm. 16mm. 3/4", 1/2", interactive laser 
videodisc (NTSC). Deadline: Mar. 20. Contact: 
International Health & Medical Film Festival, 1601 
Ygnacio Valley Rd.. Walnut Creek, CA 94598; (415) 
947-5303; fax: (415) 947-5341. 

JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, July. CA. Estab. 1981, 
noncompetitive fest accepts contemp. films w/ Jewish 
subject matter; filmmaker need not be Jewish. Related 
fest in Madrid in Oct. also celebrating Sephardic Jewish 
exp. All genres. No entry fee. Formats: 35mm. 16mm; 
preview on cassette. Deadline: Apr. 15. Contact: Deborah 
Kaufman/Jams Plotkin, Jewish Film Fest. 2600 10th St.. 
Berkeley, CA 94710; (510) 548-0556; fax: (510) 548- 
0536. 

NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL FILM & VIDEO FEST- 
IVAL, May 21-31, CA. This showcase of docs & shorts 
invites submissions of new releases for regional Bay 
Area premieres. Seeks socially relevant, artistically 
innovative works that present personal points of view, 
particularly works which address this yr's theme, 
"cultures in collision." Deadline: Mar. 15. Contact: 
Artistic Director, NEFVF, 655 13th St., Oakland. CA 
94612; (510) 465-6885. 

NY INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF LESBIAN & GAY 

FILM (The New Festival), June 4-14, NY. Showcases 
all film & video genres by, for, or about gay men & 
lesbians, incl. dramatic features & shorts, docs & 
experimental works. Formats: 35mm, 16mm. 3/4", 1/2", 
(super 8 only if transferred to tape). Submit preview 
entries on 1/2" or 3/4" along w/S5 shipping & handling. 



This month's festivals have been compiled 
by Kathryn Bowser, director of the FIVF 
Festival Bureau. Listings do not constitute 
an endorsement. Since some details 
change faster than we do, we recommend 
that you contact the festival for further 
information before sending prints or tapes. 
In order to improve our reliability & make 
this column more beneficial to 
independents, we encourage all film- & 
videomakers to contact the FIVF Festival 
Bureau with their personal festival 
experiences, positive & negative. 

Deadline: Mar. 20. Contact: New Festival, 80 8th Ave., 
Suite 902, New York, NY 1001 1; (212) 807-1820; fax: 
(212)807-9843. 

ROBERT FLAHERTY SEMINAR, Aug. 8-14, NY. 
Intensive week of screenings & discussions at Wells 
College in Aurora, exploring all forms of ind. cinema & 
video w/ participants of all ages, backgrounds & 
professional concerns. Open to all, incl. film/video- 
makers, teachers, students, scholars, critics, 
programmers, activists. This yr seminar explores cul- 
tural identities negotiated through film/video. Special 
interest in work by & w/ members of disenfranchised 
groups & ethnic, religious & sexual minorities who use 
film/video to claim identity. Featuring innovative work 
by indigenous peoples incl. Native Americans, Inuit. 
Amazonian Indians, Australian Aborigines, Papua New 
Guineans & other Pacific Islanders. 1 992 programmers — 
Faye Ginsburg & Jay Ruby — are interested in ind. doc, 
narrative, animation & experimental forms that extend 
Flaherty tradition of cinematic exploration. Send 
description or press kit to either programmer (Faye 
Ginsburg. Dept. of Anthropology. 25 Waverly PL, NYU, 
New York, NY 10003; Jay Ruby, Box 128, Mifflin- 
town, PA 17059). Do not send films or tapes. Deadline: 
Apr. 30. For registration info, contact: Sally Berger, 
International Film Seminars. 305 W. 21st St., New 
York, NY 10011; (212) 727-7262; fax: (212) 691-9565. 

SINKING CREEK FILM CELEBRATION, June 6-13. 
TN. Leading Southern showcase & competition for ind., 
noncommercial & student films & videos of all lengths. 
now in 23rd yr. $10,000 in cash awards; incl. Hubley 
Animation Award; S500 award for features of special 
merit; 2 Asheville Cinematheque Awards (S150) for 
excellence in doc & experimental. Cats: young film/ 
videomaker(toage 18); college film/videomaker (under- 
grade ind. film/videomaker, 2 purchase awards from 
TN Arts Commission. Entry fee: $15-75, by length. 
Deadline: Apr. 15. Contact: Mary Jane Coleman, Sinking 
Creek Film Celebration. 1 250 Shiloh Rd.. Greeneville. 
TN 27743: (615) 638-6524 or Meryl Truett, executive 
dir., (615) 322-2471. 

SLICE OF LIFE FILM FESTIVAL. July 10-11. PA. 10th 



annual fest held inconjunction w/ Central PA Festival of 
the Arts. Open to observational & doc films & videos 
depicting "special moments of everyday life." Cash 
awards, prizes, invitations to screenings, reception & 
discussion. Narrative works & work over 30 min. not 
accepted. Entry fee: $25. Formats: 16mm, 3/4". Deadline: 
Apr. 1 . Contact: Sedgwick Hesekett. Slice of Life Film 
& Video Showcase, c/o Doc. Resource Ctr, 106 
Boalsburg Rd., Box 909, Lemont, PA 1 685 1 ; (8 1 4) 234- 
7886; fax: (814) 234-0939. 

STUDENT ACADEMY AWARDS, June, CA. 19th yr of 
competition for works by US college & univ. students 
supports & encourages filmmakers w/ no previous 
professional exp. Gold, Silver & Bronze Awards (incl. 
cash of $2,000, $ 1 ,500 & $ 1 ,000) for outstanding student 
filmmaking in animation, doc, dramatic, experimental 
cats. Entries must be made in student-teacher relationship, 
in school setting & completed after Apr. 1, 1991. 60- 
min. max. length. Formats: 35mm, 16mm. Must submit 
entries through regional coordinators: ME, NH, VT, 
MA, RI, CT to John Gianvito, asst prof., An Dept, 
UMass at Boston, Harbor Campus, Dorchester, MA 
02125-3393, (617) 287-5730; NJ, PA, DE, MD, DC, 
OH, VA, WV, KY to Wanen Bass, Dir., MFA Program, 
Radio-TV-Film. Temple Univ., Philadelphia 19122, 
(215) 787-1666; NY, Puerto Rico to Daniel Glick, 
Brooklyn College Film Dept, Bedford Ave. & Ave. H, 
Brooklyn, NY 11210, (718) 780-5057; NC, SC, TN, 
AR, GA, AL, FL, MS, LA, OK, TX. CO, NM. UT, AZ 
to Stephen Mims, Dept of Radio-TV-Film, CMA 6. 1 1 8, 
Univ. ofTX, Austin, TX 78712-1091, (512) 471-4071; 
MI, IN, WI, MN, IL, IA, ND, SD. NE, KS, MO to Dan 
Ladely, Mary Riepma, Ross Film Theater, Univ. of NE, 
Lincoln, NE, (402) 472-5353; MT, WY, ID, NV, AK, 
WA, OR, N. CA to Bill Foster/Kristy Edmunds, North- 
west Film Ctr, Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park. 
Portland, OR 97205, (503) 221-1156; S. CA, HI to 
Donald J. Zirpola. Communication Arts Dept. Loyola 
Marymount Univ., Loyola Blvd. at W. 80th St., Los 
Angeles, CA 90045, (310) 338-3033. Deadline: Apr. 1 . 
Contact: Regional Coordinator or Richard Miller, awards 
administrator. Academy of Motion Picture Arts & 
Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 9021 1- 
1972; (310) 247-3000; fax: (310) 859-9351. 

Foreign 

EKOFILM, May 25-29, Czechoslovakia. Accepts films 
& TV programs addressing environmental issues w/ 
"nonconventional opinions & nonconventional... solu- 
tions & that underline the environmental aspects of all 
human activities." Competitive & informational 
screenings, panel discussions, professional meetings. 
Awards: Great Prize of EKOFILM, 5 main prizes, 
special prize of Jury & Certification of Honor. Entries 
for int'l section must be produced after Jan. 1, 1990. No 
entry fee. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4" (PAL only). 
Deadline: Mar. 15. Contact: EKOFILM Secretariat, 
Box 668, 1 1 3 57 Prague 1 . Czechoslovakia; tel: 42 2 235 
8947/42 2 236 0620-3; fax: 42 2 235 9788. 

HAMBURG NO-BUDGET SHORT FILM FESTIVAL. 

June 4-8, Germany. Int'l competition for short films in 
3 cats: No-Budget Competition: for shorts/videos w/ 
minimal prod, costs & self-financed works: Steppin' 
Out: for shorts that already received subsidy &/or prod, 
financing exceeding DM10.000; 3 Minute Quicky: for 
films/videos shorter than 3 min. w/ particular theme. 
Total of DM30,000 in awards. Program incl. panorama 
of Finnish, Brazilian, Portuguese films; retrospective of 
short films by black filmmakers; first short films by 



34 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



famous directors; trash works; Visionsbar selected for 
non-public screenings; performances, installations, 
symposia. Formats: 16mm, 3/4". Deadline: Mar. 31. 
Contact: LAG FILM Hamburge.V., NO BUDGET- 
Buro, Glashuttenstrasse 27, D-2000 Hamburg 36, 
Germany; tel: 40 43 44 99; fax: 40 430 27 03. 

INTERAMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL OF INDIGENOUS 
PEOPLES, June 17-26, Peru. Held in Lima & Cuzco, 
Peru, fest showcases recent cinema & video prods made 
by & about indigenous peoples of the Americas & which 
are concerned w/human rights, ecology , communications 
& development. Fest promotes films/videos on cultures 
& claims of indigenous peoples; encourages exchange 
among participants; inspires coproduction of fiction & 
nonfiction genres; promotes training of indigenous 
peoples & discussions of visual anthropology field w/ 
special attn to research, prod. & critique of filmic 
technography . Awards for best visual & anthropological 
treatments, best testimonial & doc. value; best fiction 
film; best Latin Amer. prod.; special prizes for human 
rights; ecology; ethnic identity. Retros, forum, 
colloquium & exhibitions. Deadline: Apr. 30. Contact: 
Comision Organizadora IV Festival Americano de Cene 
de Los Pueblos Indigenas (CLACPI), A. Juan de Aliaga 
204, Lima27,Peru, S. America; tel/fax: (5 1 - 14) 6 1 7949. 

PARNU INTERNATIONAL VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY 
FILM FESTIVAL, July 5- 1 2, Estonia. 6th ed. of scientific 
& artistic competition event anthropologists & doc. 
filmmakers of East & West, supporting cultural survival 
or recording cultures' social, historical, or ecological 
issues. Entries must be under 60 min. Awards 1st prize 
(large Estonian handwoven blanket); prizes for best 
films on survival of indigenous culture & outstanding 
scientific documentation. All prizes are Finn-Ugric 
handicrafts. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4"; preview on 1/ 
2" (preview cassettes are not returned). Deadline: Apr. 
1. Contact: Parnu International Visual Anthropology 
Society, Box 150, Parnu 203600, Estonia; tel: 7 014 444 
3869. 



FIVF THANKS 

The Foundation for Independent Video and 
Film (FIVF), the foundation affiliate of the 
Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers (AIVF), supports a variety of 
programs and services for the independent 
producer community, including publication 
of The Independent, maintenance of the 
Festival Bureau, seminars and workshops, 
an information clearinghouse, and a grant 
making program. None of this work would 
be possible without the generous support of 
the following agencies, foundations, and 
organizations: New York State Council on 
the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts, 
a federal agency; John D. and Catherine T. 
MacArthur Foundation; J. Roderick 
MacArthur Foundation; Rockefeller Foun- 
dation; Consolidated Edison Company of 
New York; Beldon Fund; Edelman Family 
Fund, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, 
and Funding Exchange. 



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MARCH 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 35 



Buy ■ Rent ■ Sell 



OFRCE sH \RK: Indie prixiucer has desk area tree in 
•.unfilled Soho office. Incl. fax, laser printer. 3/4 \ 
\ US screening & space tor small mtgs 24-hr access. 7- 
da> wk $325Ano. Call (212) 966-1095 or4141. Avail. 
3 15. 

SEEKING NEW WORKS tor educational mkts 
Educational Productions distributes \ ideos on earl\ 
childhood, special & parent ed. Linda Freeman. 
Educational Prods. 74 1 2 S\V Beaverton Hillsdale \h\ > . 
Portland. OR 97225; (800) 950-4949. 

\ VRIEl) DIRECTIONS INTERNATIONAL, distributor 
of selects e programs on child abuse, health & w omen \ 
issues, seeks films/videos. Call Joyce, (800) 888-5236 
or unte: 69 Elm Street. Camden. ME 04843: tax: (207) 
236-4512. 

\\ \\ I ED: G \\ -THEMED VIDEO SHORTS for home 

video series. Comedy, drama & soft-core erotica. No 
docs. Licensing fee & modest royalty. Send 1/2" VHS & 
SASE w PR data to: Out & About Pictures. 7985 Santa 
Monica Bl\d.. Suite 109-3 1. W. Hollyv.ood.CA 90046. 

LEADING W ORLDWIDE DISTRIBUTOR offers private 
space w/ panoramic views in bright south midtown 
office. Conference room, video screening facilities & all 
office amenities. SI. 200 to S1.500/mo. subject to services. 
Call (212) 686-6777. 

DESERT ISLAND FILMS, ind. distributor, seeks features, 
animation, docs for domestic & overseas TV sales. 
Desert Island Films. 25 Almy St.. Newport. RI 02840: 
(800) 766-8550. 

SEEKING NEW WORKS for educational & health care 
markets. Fanlight Productions distributes film/videos in 
areas of health, sociology, psychology, etc. Brenda 
Shanley. Fanlight Prods. 47 Halifax St.. Boston. MA 
02130: (617) 524-0980. 

FOR SALE: Perfect condition package. 6-plate Steenbeck 
16mm edit table: Eclair ACL 16mm w/ 200' & 400' ft 
mags; 9-95 Angenieux zoom & battery. S6.000. Marc 

(212)431-7748. 

NAGRA III: Used. Very good condition. AC adaptor and 
leather carrying case. SI. 100. Call Andy at (212) 662- 
6540. 

FOR SALE: 2 Rangertone 16mm mag dubbers: Arriflex 
16mm S/B camera w/ DC motor & Angenieux zoom: 
Cinemonta 16mm 6-plate editing console: Otari MX 
50502-track 1/4" tape recorder. Call Paul Gagne. 1-800- 
243-5020 ext. 217; (203) 226-3355. 

MINT CONDITION: Sony DXC-M3A video camera w/ 
FujinonTVZ. 12 x9Berm lens. Broadcast quality. Must 
sell immediately. Make an offer. Julia (212) 724-9034. 

DESKTOP VIDEO SYSTEMS. Affordable hi-8/S-VHS 
prod. & postprod. pkg. incl. state-of-the-art hi-8 cam- 
corder w/ time code, editing VCR. computer & frame 
accurate decision list controller system. Install, train & 
support. Cliff (212) 285-1463. 

USED EQUIPMENT: Pro Video & Film specializes in 
quality used equip. 44 yrs exp. Money back guarantee. 
Quarterly catalog. We buy. sell, trade, consign, locate & 
appraise. Pro Video & Film Equipment Group. Dallas. 
(214) 869-001 1: fax: (214) 869-0145. 

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY: Award-winning 
filmmaker w/ completed feature film seeks postprod. 
investors on equity basis. Last money in receives first 



Each entry in the Classifieds column has a 
250-character limit & costs $20 per issue. 
Ads exceeding this length will be edited. 
Payment must be made at the time of 
submission. Anyone wishing to run a 
classified more than once must pay for 
each insertion & indicate the number of 
insertions on the submitted copy. Each 
classified must be typed, double-spaced 
& worded exactly as it should appear. 
Deadlines are the 8th of each month, two 
months prior to the cover date (e.g. March 
8 for the May issue). Make check or 
money order — no cash, please — payable 
to FIVF, 625 Broadway, 9th floor, New 
York, NY 10012. 

money out. Reviews: "An excellent film w/ fine acting 
& production values." Call (310) 453-0078. 

CP-16A W ANGENIEUX F9.S-9Smm zoom lens, tripod, 
2-400'. 1 - 1 .200' magazines, filters, shades, cases. S 1 .200. 
Plus a Canon 1 6mm Scoopic w/ 1 3-76mm zoom. $600. 
All mint, call (212) 353-3939 for a bargain. 

16MM FRENCH ECLAIR for sale incl. 12-120 Ange- 
nieux. 400' magazine, case & battery belt. Mint condition. 
$7,000. Sample reel avail. Call (212) 673-8529. 

VIDEO FOR RENT: Le Roi du Crazy. Or: That's No Life 
Jerry! Award-winning mock doc. on comedian Jerry 
Lewis' career, featuring uncanny impersonation. Must- 
see for anyone who gets kick out of Jerry Lewis — or 
would like to kick him. Call (213) 851-6783. 

CALL FILMBIZ HOTLINE to find out about prod., 
financing & distribution opportunities. 1-900-420-3709. 
ext. 668 (S2.00 per minute). Filmbiz. Chicago. IL. 

Preproduction 

WRITERS WANTED for independent feature film 
projects. Please send samples of work to Downstream 
Films. Route 4. Box 15C. Santa Fe. NM 87501; Attn: 
Larry Mayfiel. GeoffreyBarish. (505) 982-2983. 

PRODUCTION CO. preparing feature film, commercials 
& docs seeks reels & resumes from all depts: DP. prod, 
mgr. on-line/off-line video editors, sound, prod, design, 
costume/wardrobe, etc. Write: AMI/PCH, Box 1042. 
Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 1001 1. 

WANNABE PRODUCER needs small cast, low-budget 
scripts from wannabe writers willing to risk combining 
forces with this unknown, inexperienced indiv. No 
promises. Prefer scripts dealing with domestic issues. 
Box 1243. New York. NY 10017. 

SCREENPLAYS W ANTED by experienced indie. Most 
genres (no horror, sci-fi, exploitation or costume epics). 
Send script, w/ letter & SASE to: Three Skates Films, 



Box 573037, Houston, TX 77257-3037; phone/fax: 
(713)974-6961. 

RKA CINEMA CREATIONS will tailor a motion picture 
proposal to your film prod. Impress your investors v./ 
hard facts & figures presented in our dynamic-looking 
proposals. Also script typing & film budgeting. Call Mr. 
Ronald Armstrong (212) 603-9506. 

Freelancers 

HESSION-ZIEMAN PRODUCTIONS: Betacam& Beta- 
cam SP field prod, crew for docs, commercials, music 
videos, public relations, dance, etc. Sony BVW507 
camcorder w/ full lighting, sound & grip pkg. 
Experienced DP. (212) 529-1254. 

HUSHPUPPIES & GRITS! Production manager in the 
Southeast. Worked from DC to Miami, know the best 
crews, equipment & facilities, not to mention great 
restaurants & caterers. Laptop, portable office & printer 
ready to go! Phone & fax: (803) 799-4404. 

SOUND RECORDIST/MIXER avail, for short shoots. 
Fully equipped. Credits incl. MTV Janet Jackson & 
indie features. Kate: (215) 242-1458 

ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY avail, at affordable 
rates to organize production co.; handle film financing; 
prepare/negotiate options & various agreements; 
copyright disputes or registration. Free phone consult. 
Gary Kauffman, Esq. (212) 721-1621. 

AWARD-WINNING VIDEOGRAPHER & producer/ 
director avail, for freelance projects (many PBS & 
indust. credits). High-quality Sony camera & sound pkg 
(incl. wireless). Special rates for interesting projects. 
Julie Gustafson (212) 966-9578. 

TAX ACCOUNTANT experienced w/ freelancers. 
Knowledgable in NYC rent tax & NYS. NJ. PA. MA, 
CA taxation & sales tax. Call for a free newsletter. (212) 
727-9811. 

REPRO-QUALITY FILM STILLS for publicity, 
publication. Negs w/ photos from 8-35mm. 20 yrs exp. 
making photos from films for MoMA Books. Whitney 
Museum & Art Forum. S25/neg. w/ 8x10 or 2-5x7; 3- 
day service. (718) 522-3521. 

JACK OF ALL TRADES for rent. I"m a prod, coordinator 
w/ doc. & industrial exp.. a sound editor & recordist w/ 
feature credits, a DP w/ an Eclair NPR pkg. Familiar w/ 
numerous off-line systems. No, I don't do windows. 
Reel avail. Doug (212) 982-9609. 

THE SCREENPLAY DOCTOR & the Movie Mechanic: 
Professional story analysts/postprod. specialists will 
analyze your screenplay or treatment & evaluate your 
film-in-progress. Major studio & indie background. 
Reasonable rates. (212) 219-9224. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY avail, for dramatic 1 6 
or 35mm productions of any length. Credits incl. 
Metropolitan. Call to see my reel. John Thomas (201 ) 
783-7360. 

BETACAM SP: Award-winning cameraman w/ BVW 
507 field pkg will work w/in your budget. Equip, pkg 
incl. Vinten tripod. DP kit. wide-angle lens. Neuman 
KMR8 1 , Lavs & Toyota 4-Runner. B VP7/B VW 35 pkg 
avail. & full postprod. services. Hal (201) 662-7526. 

GERMAN CINEMATOGRAPHER. award-winning, 
avail, in New York area. Ow nerof 1 6mm Aaton package. 
Will travel. Wolfgang Held (212) 620-0029. 



36 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY w/ Aaton XTR pkg 
incl. Zeiss, NikJcor & video tap: avail, in Pacific 
Northwest. Camera can rent separately. Call Lars: (206) 
632-5496. 

PARIS IS BLRMNG-DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY 

avail, for docs, features, ads, rock vids. Own super- 16- 
capable Aaton pkg. Ask for reel — you'll like what you 
see. Call Paul (212) 475-1947. 

BETACAM SP & 3/4" production pkgs, incl. Vinten 
tripod, monitor, full lighting & audio wireless & car. 3/ 
4" editing w/Chyron & digital effects. Video duplication 
to & from 3/4" & VHS. Call Adam (212) 319-5970. 

BEALTIFLL ILLUSTRATION for your storyboard. 
shooting board or finished art needs. 8 years exp. 
Published by Watson Guptill. Clients incl. ad agencies, 
video prod, firms. Nice, team player, reasonable rates. 
Quick turnaround. James Fogle (718) 522-5724. 

AWARD-WINNING CAMERAMAN w/ 1 6mm ACL II & 

Betacam looking for challenging projects. Partial client 
list: ABC Sports, IBM. LIRR. Pitney Bowes, Wilderness 
Society. Complete crews avail., incl. sound & grip pkgs. 
Reasonable rates. Call Mike (718) 352-1287. 

HOME OR ABROAD: Prod, company w/ int'l exp. fully 
outfitted w/ compact Sony hi-8 gear/film-style audio 
ready to work in far & distant lands. Can take your 
project from preprod. through the final edit. Call Dan 
(212)628-0178. 

STEADICAM for film & video. Special rates for 
independents. Call Sergei Franklin (212) 228-4254. 

HI-8 CAM PKG w/ experienced cameraperson: 3-chip 
Sony DXC-325/EVV-90OO. full accessories incl. lights, 
mics. mixer & LCD monitor. 5550/day . shorter & longer 
rates negotiable. Call Robbie at (718) 783-8432. 

TOP FLIGHT COMPOSER w/ extensive prod, exper- 
ience, fluent in all styles, avail, for dramatic, doc. or 
commercial projects. Well-equipped Midi Studio. Call/ 
write for demo. Phil Rubin Music. 157 W. 57th Street 
#500, New York. NY 10019. (212) 956-0800. 

LOCATION SOUND RECORDIST w/ Sony digital recor- 
der & top quality mics. Reasonable rates. Call Todd 
Reckson (212) 995-2247. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY w/ 35mm Arriflex 
BL, Zeiss Superspeed. zoom, videotap & accessories, 
lighting/grip pkg & video editing. Feature, commercial 
& music video exp. Work as local in NYC, LA. Orlando. 
San Diego & NM. Call for reel. Blain (212) 279-0162. 

BETACAM SP location pkg w/ engineer $400/day . Incl . 
lights, mics. tripod. 3/4" SP or hi-8 S350/day. Full 
selection of wireless mics, communications & video 
transmitters. Crews w/ broadcast exp. Customized 
systems. Electronic Visions (212) 691-0375. 

CUSTOM MUSIC FOR TV & RADIO: Creative composer/ 
producer will work w/in tight budgets & schedules. 
Electronic & acoustic music. DAT or analog mixdown. 
Vocalists, voice-over talent, multitrack prod, avail. Call 
Sauna Studio (718) 229-4864. 

BETACAM SP & HI-8 package avail, w/or w/out well- 
travelled documentary & network cameraman & crew. 
Ed Fabry (212)387-9340. 

CAMERAMAN W/OWN EQUIPMENT: SR, 35BL. Beta. 
3/4", lighting, grip, van. Extensive experience from 
features to music videos. Call Tony at (212) 620-0084. 

FREELANCE PRODUCER IN ISRAEL: Seasoned US 
documentary producer living in Israel avail, to direct/ 



3/4" VIDEO & POST PRODUCTION 



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THE INDEPENDENT 37 



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Bencher M2 Stand W/Sony DXC-3O00 Camera, Soundcraft 200-BVE Audio mixer, Orban Limiter/Compressor, DAT, CD, 
Cassette & Turntable, Couches, Cappuccino & Cool! 

Betacam SP Field Production $700IDay 

Sony BVW-200 Camcorder w/Nikon S1 5x8.5 Lens, Sachler Video 20 Tripod, Shure FP-31 Mixer, (3) Lowell DP Lights 
w/Umbrellas, Samson Wireless Mies, JVC TM-22 Monitor, Ford 4x4 Truck w/Phone. 

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produce, research story &/or stock, location scout, etc. 
Contact: Terri Randall. 1 7 Nechmani Street, Tel Aviv 
65794. Phone & fax: 01 1-972-320-1206. 

$250 DAILY PRODUCTION: Award-winning DP with 
16mm production pkg incl. camera, lenses. Nagra, mics 
& some lights. Travel anywhere, anytime. Call for reel 
& additional information (310) 453-0078. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY w/ 8 feature films 
experience. Credits incl. Straight Out of Brooklyn. Self- 
owned 35/16 camera systems, lights/electrical pkg. sync- 
sound recording system. Lowest rates! Call John Rosnell 
at (212) 366-5030. 

RICHARD CHISOLM. director of photography, film & 
video. Intl documentary work. 1 1 yrs experience, reel 
avail. (410)467-2997. 

NEED HELP IN YOCR PRODUCTIONS? Specialist in 
music & video prods & choreography: French/English 
& Creole/English translator. Learn ballroom dancing at 
home or in studio! Francois 3400 NE 12th Ave., Ste. 
129, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304: (305) 792-7623. 



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BOB BRODSKY & TONI TREADWAY: Super 8 & 8mm 
film-to-video mastering w/ scene-by-scene color 
correction to 1 ". Betacam & 3/4". By appointment only. 
Call (617) 666-3372. 

8MM VIDEO EDITING for the emerging artist who 
wants to walk away w/ completed tape. Edit in your 
original format incl. special effects. If you shoot hi-8. do 
your rough cuts here w/ time code. $15/hr w/ award- 
winning editor. (212) 995-8676. 

THREE ROOM 16MM EDIT SUITE & OFFICE for rent 
w/ 6-plate Steenbeck. Room for extra table. Fully 
equipped w/ rewinds, synchronizer, split reels, bins & 
phone. Clean & safe w/ 24-hr access. Reasonable rates. 
Call (212) 505-0138. 

DAILIES IN SYNC DAILY: 16 or 35mm prepared over- 
night for coding or transfer to tape. Precision guaran- 
teed. $30/400' (1000') camera roll. Student rates & pick 
up/delivery avail. Call NY's only downtown dailies 
service (212) 431-9289. 

OFF-LINE in comfort & privacy w/ or w/out editor on a 
JVC hi-fi VHS system. Can make window dub transfers 
from Betacam. hi-8. or 3/4" to hi-fi VHS. Call Dan at 
EDITIT! (212) 628-0178. 

COMFORTABLE & PRIVATE VHS off-line editing 
suites. Low hourly or weekly rates. Editor avail., 24-hr 
access. Soho location. (212) 966-9578. 

OFF-LINE AT HOME! Will rent 2 Sony 5850s w/RM440 
or RM450 edit controller & monitors. Low monthly 
rates. S650/week. Answer your own phone & cut all 
night if you like! John (212) 245- 1364 or 529- 1254. 

EDIT IN NEW ENGLAND COUNTRYSIDE. Two fully 
equipped 16mm edit rooms — 6 plate Steenbeck. KEM, 
sound transfers. Office/living space in brick Victorian. 
Edit help & production pkg avail. Very reasonable rates. 
GMP Films (413) 863-4754. 

TOTAL SUPER 8 SOUND film services. All S-8 prod., 
postprod.. editing, sync sound, mix. multitrack. single & 
double system sound editing, transfers, stills, striping, 
etc. Send SASE for rate sheet or call Bill Creston, 727 
6th Ave., New York, NY 10010; (212) 924-4893. 



38 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



The Association 
of Independent 
[Video and 
Filmmakers 



^U^hen you join the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, you're doing something for yourself — and for 
others. Membership entitles you to a wide range of benefits. 
Plus, it connects you with a national network of independent 
producers. Adding your voice helps us all. The stronger AIVF 
is, the more we can act as advocate for the interests of inde- 
pendents like yourself — inside the corridors of Washington, 
with the press, and with others who affect our livelihoods. 



f SenefcU *£ THevdentAifi, 



'IE INDEPENDENT 

smbership provides you with a year's 
bscription to The Independent. Pub- 
hed 1 times a year, the magazine is 
/ital source of information about the 
dependent media field. Each issue 
lps you get down to business with 
stival listings, funding deadlines, ex- 
t>ition venues, and more. Plus, you'll 
id thought-provoking features, 
verage of the field's news, and 
gular columns on business, techni- 
1, and legal matters. 

IE FESTIVAL BUREAU 

VT maintains up-to-date information 
over 650 national and international 
itivals, and can help you determine 
lich are right for your film or video. 

mson Service 

VF works directly with many foreign 
itivals, in some cases collecting and 
ipping tapes or prints overseas, in 
ner cases serving as the U.S. host to 
siting festival directors who come to 
eview work. 

rpe Library 

ambers can house copies of their 
>rk in the ATVF tape library for 
reening by visiting festival program- 
?rs. Or make your own special 
reening arrangements with ATVF. 

FORMATION SERVICES 

stiibution 

person or over the phone, ATVF can 
ovide information about distributors 
d the kinds of films, tapes, and 
irkets in which they specialize. 



AJVFs Member Library 

Our library houses information on dis- 
tributors, funders, and exhibitors, as 
well as sample contracts, funding ap- 
plications, budgets, and other matters. 

SEMINARS 

Our seminars explore current busi- 
ness, aesthetic, legal, and technical 
topics, giving independent producers a 
valuable forum to discuss relevant 
issues. 



BOOKS AND TAPES 

AIVF has the largest mail order catalog 
of media books and audiotaped se- 
minars in the U.S. Our list covers all 
aspects of film and video production. 
And we're constantly updating our 
titles, so independents everywhere 
have access to the latest media infor- 
mation. We also publish a growing list 
of our own titles, covering festivals, 
distribution, and foreign and domestic 
production resource guides. 

continued 



r 




AIVF 

625 Broadway 
9th floor 
New York, NY 
10012 



HEfll 



■ 



*\ 



ADVOCACY 

Whether it's freedom of expression, 
public funding levels, public TV, 
contractual agreements, cable 
legislation, or other issues that affect 
independent producers, ATVF is 
there working for you. 

INSURANCE 
Production Insurance 
A production insurance plan, tailor- 
made for ATVF members and cover- 
ing public liability, faulty film and 
tape, equipment, sets, scenery, 
props, and extra expense, is avail- 
able, as well as an errors and omis- 
sions policy with unbeatable rates. 

Group Health, Disability, and Life 
Insurance Plans with TEIGIT 

ATVF currently offers two health 
insurance policies, so you're able to 
find the one that best suits your 
needs. 

Dental Plan 

Reduced rates for dental coverage 
are available to NYC and Boston- 
area members. 



DEALS AND DISCOUNTS 

Service Discounts 

In all stages of production and in most 
formats, ATVF members can take ad- 
vantage of discounts on equipment 
rentals, processing, editing services, 
and other production necessities. 

National Car Rental 

National offers a 10-20 percent dis- 
count to ATVF members. Write for the 
ATVF authorization number. 

Mastercard Plan 

Credit cards through the Maryland 
Bank are available to members with a 
minimum annual income of $18,000. 
Fees are waived the first year. 

Facets Multimedia Video Rentals 

ATVF members receive discounts on 
membership and mail-order video 
rentals and sales from this Chicago- 
based video rental organization. 

MORE TO COME 

Keep watching The Independent for in- 
formation about additional benefits. 




*&elfr ^4. 



Join ATVF today and get a one-year 
subscription to The Independent. 

□ $45/individual (in U.S. & P.R.) 

□ (Add $15 for 1st class mailing) 

□ $85 /organization 

□ $60/library 

□ $25/student (enclose copy of 
student ID) 

□ $60 /foreign 

□ (Add $ 1 8 for foreign air mail 
outside Canada & Mexico) 



Name 



Address 

City 

State 



Zip. 



Country 



Telephone 



Please send more information on: 



Enclosed is check or money order. 
Or, please bill my: □ Visa 

□ Mastercard 

ACCOUNT n 
EXPIRATION DATE 
SIGNATURE 

Charge by phone: (212) 473-3400. 



/W/*W?7*^ ... 

Five thousand members strong, 
the Association of Independent 
Video and Filmmakers has been 
working for independent producer; 
— providing information, fighting 
for artists' rights, securing 
funding, negotiating discounts, 
and offering group insurance 
plans. Join our growing roster. 



MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES 

Individual membership 

1 issues of The Independent 

Access to all plans and discounts 

Vote and run for office on board ol 

directors 

Free Motion Picture Enterprises 

Guide 

Listing in the ATVF Membership 

Directory 

Organizational membership 

All the benefits of individual 

membership 

PLUS: Special expanded listing in 

the ATVF Membership Directory anc 

a free copy 

Discounts on the AIVF mailing list 

Student membership 

1 issues of The Independent 
Free MPE Guide 

Listing in the student section of 
the ATVF Membership Directory 

Library/Institutional 
membership 

All the benefits of individual 

membership 

PLUS: Special notice of upcoming 

publications 

Back issues of The Independent 



16MM EDITING ROOM & OFFICE space for rent in 
suite of indies. Fully equipped w/6-plate Steenbeck& 
24-hr access. All windowed & new carpet. Located at 
W. 24th St. & 7th Ave. Reasonable rates. Call Jeff at 
Film Partners (212) 714-2313. 

16MM CUTTING ROOMS: 8-plate & 6-plate fully 
equipped rooms, sound transfer facilities, 24-hr access. 
Downtown, near all subways & Canal St. Reasonable, 
negotiable rates. (212) 925-1500. 

COZY & CHEAP: 3/4" off-line editing room w/ new 
Sony 5850, 5800, RM440. $500/week for a 5-day 
week. 24-hr access, midtown location. Call Jane at 
(212) 929-4795 or Deborah at (212) 226-2579. 

BARGAIN VHS OFF-LINE: $10/hr rate w/JVC system, 
private, airy room in comfortable home-office suite, 
accessible Park Slope, Brooklyn location. Experienced 
editor also avail. Call Robbie at (718) 783-8432. 

NEGATIVE MATCHING: 16 or 35mm. 40 years exp., 
all work guaranteed! Will beat any competitor's price. 
Video matchback to the AVID 1 Composer. Northeast 
Negative Matchers (413) 736-2177 or (800) 370- 
CUTS. 

SUPER 8MM FILM-TO-VIDEO transfer. To 1", Beta, 
hi-8, 3/4", VHS. Slo-mo, freeze, toaster EFX also. 
Standard 8, slides, 16mm also. Broadcast quality, low 
rates, personal service. Super 8 camera rental & music 
cinematography. Landy vision (914) 679-7046. 

SONY 5850 edit system, $400/week in home + free 
funding consult. Hi-8 camera w/ award-winning 
shooter. $250/shoot. Want co-buyer for Betacam SP 
deck/cam. & Ike 79; comic writer, coproducer & intern 
for Ben & Jerry's TV special/book. (212) 727-8637. 



Classifieds Do Pay! 

"We've run ads in other 
publications, but The 
Independent is the only 
place we've ever gotten 
a response." 

Cozy & Cheap, off-line editing. 



MOVING ? 

LET US KNOW. 

IT TAKES FOUR TO SIX WEEKS 

TO PROCESS A CHANGE OF 

ADDRESS, SO PLEASE NOTIFY 

US IN ADVANCE. 



Show and Tell. 



Back issues of The Independent are 

available to professors for classroom 

distribution free of charge. 

Contact AIVF: (212) 473-3400. 



CUT LOOSE 

EDITORIAL 

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MARCH 1992 



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INTERAMERICAN PRODUCTIONS, INC. 

59 St. James Place 
fax (212) 791-2709 New York, New York 10038 phone (212) 732-1647 

THE INDEPENDENT 39 



Conferences ■ Seminars 

d nur H)K i kt \n\t im\(>im; in Maine accep- 
ting appK tor summer A tall programs. For course 
desc ri p ti ons A appl.. contact: Center for Creative 
Imaging. 51 Mechanic St.. Camden. ME 04843-1348; 
(207)236-7400; fax: (207)236-7490. 

DOWNTOWN COMMUNITY lHE\lslo\ (INTER 

otters work-in-progress workshops to screen &/or \ leu 
works, tree refreshments. Dates: Mar. 25. Apr. 22. 
Reservations requested. Contact: Lon Lemer, DCTV, 
87 Lafa>ette St.. New Yak, NY 10013; (212) 966- 
4510. Also a\ail. free \ ideo & editing workshops, on- 
line seminars, doc. workshops in Spanish. Contact: 
DCTV. 

FILM VIDEO ARTS March w orkshops: Location Sound 
Recording: Optical Printing Masterclass w/ Barbara 
Hammer: Lighting for Film: Apparatus No-Budget 
Production Workshop: Directing the Ind. Doc. & Prod. 
Mgmt. Contact: Media Training Dept.. F/VA. 817 
Broadway, New York. NY 10003; (212) 673-9371. 

WOMEN MAKE MOVIES media workshop. Mar. 21 & 
28. Intro, to Writing for Media: Part I covers techniques 
used in writing for film & video; Part II incl. indiv. 
scriptw ruing for analysis by the class. Fee: S40/members. 
S50/nonmembers. Women Make Movies. 225 Lafayette 
St.. New York. NY 10012; (212) 925-0606; fax: (212) 
925-2052. 

YELLOWSTONE MEDIA ARTS SUMMER WORK- 
SHOPS. May 26-July 17. Advanced Scriptwriting: 
Animation: Japanese Cinema: From Manager to Mogul. 
Contact: Paul Monaco. Dept. of Media & Theater .Arts. 
Montana State Univ.. Bozeman, MT 59717: (406) 994- 
2484. 

Films ■ Tapes Wanted 

AXLEGREASE. Buffalo's wkly public access program, 
seeks experimental, narrative, animation, doc. & 
computer imaging films & videos. Send 1/2". 3/4" Beta. 
8mm. or hi-8 tapes under 27 min. to: Axlegrease. Squeaky 
Wheel. 372 Connecticut St., Buffalo. NY 14213; (716) 
884-7172. 

CATHODE CAFE, broadcast on TCI Channel 29. seeks 
work from video artists. Send 3/4" or VHS to: Cathode 
Cafe, 27600 Alki Ave., SW #305. Seattle. WA 98 1 1 6 or 
call Stan LePard (206) 937-2353. 

CITY TV. Santa Monica's cable access channel, seeks 
nontraditional w orks. particularly programs for seniors, 
the disabled, children. Spanish-language programming, 
video art & social docs. Contact: Laura Greenfield. City 
TV. 1685 Main St.. Santa Monica. CA 90401: (213) 
458-8590. 

EARTH BEAT, wkly Turner Broadcasting show, seeks 
"video dispatches": 2-min. self-contained reports w hich 
portray indiv. or group efforts to revitalize planet. 
Contact: Kim Calebs, dispatch coordinator. Earth Beat. 
Box 7648, Atlanta, GA 30357-0648; (404) 874-9696. 

FEED BACK. Chicago Access CAN TV 19 series, seeks 
videos promoting dialogue on cultural issues outside 
mainstream media. VHS. S-VHS. 8mm, hi-8 or 3/4" 
eligible. For info, call Chris Shudtenover. (312) 819- 
0213 or submit tapes to: Feed Back. Center for New 
Television. 1440 N. Dayton St.. Chicago. IL 60622. 

FILMWORKS TV, wkly 1/2-hr TV show featuring work 
bv ind. filmmakers, seeks films under 26 min. Fee for 




Notices are listed free of charge. AIVF 
members receive first priority; otfiers are 
included as space permits. The Indepen- 
dent reserves the right to edit for length. 
Deadlines for Notices will be respected. 
These are the 8th of the month, two months 
prior to cover date (e.g., March 8 for the 
May issue). Send to: Independent Notices, 
FIVF, 625 Broadway, New York, NY 
10012. 



works. Send 3/4" 2-track tapes to: Jerome Legions. Jr., 
Omega Media Network. Box 4824. Richmond, VA 
23220: (804) 353-4525. 

FLAGSHIPCHANNEL. Univ. of Mary land'seducational 
access station, seeks doc. animation, experimental & 
other original prods. No fees. Send VHS or 3/4" tapes. 
Contact: Dan Kolb. Flagship Channel. 0304 Benjamin 
Bldg., Univ. of Maryland. College Park. MD 20742; 
(301)405-3610. 

IMAGE UNION, program for ind. producers, seeks 3/4" 
tapes for broadcast in doc . , narrative, animation, comedy, 
or experimental cats. Contact: Jamie Ceaser, WTTW. 
5400 N. St. Louis Ave.. Chicago. IL 60625; (312) 583- 
5000. 

ITERATIONS: THE NEW DIGITAL IMAGING show at 

ICP seeks works of electronic photography, digital 
video, computer graphics & animation. Contact: Inter- 
national Center of Photography. 1 1 30 Fifth Ave., New 
York. NY 10128; (212) 860-1778; fax: (212) 360-6490 

LA PLAZA, WGBHs wkly doc. series for & about 
Latino community, seeks original film & video works 
treating Latino social & cultural issues. Send 3/4" or 
VHS to: La Plaza/Acquisitions. WGBH. 125 Western 

Ave.. Boston. MA 02134; (617)492-2777. 

MEDIA AWARDS COMPETITION, sponsored by the 
National Council on Family Relations, seeks entries. 
Cats incl. abuse & neglect, aging, contemporary social 
issues, parenting issues, sexuality & sex role develop- 
ment, etc. Submissions must be first-time entries to 
competition & released after Jan. 1990. Deadline: Mar. 
15. For appl. contact: National Council on Family 
Relations. 3989 Central Ave. NE. Ste. 550. Minnea- 
polis. MN 55421: (612) 781-9331. 

NIGHTSHIFT. student film/video showcase on WC VB- 
TV Boston. Submit 3/4" & short bio to: Chay Yew. 
Nightshirt. WCVB -TV Boston. 5 TV Place. Needham. 
MA 02194-2303; (617) 449-0400. 

REEL TIME, monthly film series at P.S. 122. seeks 
experimental & doc. films. 16mm & super 8 only. 
Submit VHS copy to: Jim Brown, c/o Reel Time. 
Performance Space 122. 150 1st Ave.. New York. NY 
10009: (212) 477-5288. 



ROBERT FLAHERTY SEMINAR seeks ind. doc, 
narrative, animation & experimental works that extend 
Flaherty tradition of cinematic exploration. Send 
description of work or press kit to: Faye Ginsburg. Dept. 
of Anthropology. 25 Waverly Place. NYU, New York. 
NY 10003 or Jay Ruby. Box 128, Mifflintown. PA 
17059. For registration info., contact: Sally Berger. 
executi ve director, RFS. 305 W. 2 1 st St.. New York. NY 
1001 1; (212) 727-7262; fax: (212) 691-9565. 

TERRI RANDALL FILM & VIDEO PRODUCTIONS 

seeks films & videos on Americans exploring their 
ethnic roots for TV series. Contact: Terri Randall. 310 
W. 99th St. #707. New York. NY 10025; (212) 749- 
9299. 

THE VIDEO PROJECT, nonprofit distributor of 
educational films & videos, seeks works on environment, 
arms race & other global concerns. Contact: Peter Epstein. 
The Video Project, 5332 College Ave., Suite 101, 
Oakland. CA 94618; (415) 655-9050. 

YIDEOSP.ACE, TV anthology cablecast nationally, seeks 
films. Send SASE for guidelines: 3733 28th St. #24, 
Long Island City. NY 1 1 101; (718) 361-2102. 

WOMEN IN COMMUNICATIONS invites entries for 
1992 Clarion Awards national competition, open to 
women & men. Winners honored at National Professional 
Conference in Chicago. Oct. 1-4. Entry fee: $35/ 
members: S75/nonmembers. Deadline: Mar. 16. Contact: 
Laura Rush. WICI Headquarters, 2101 Wilson Blvd., 
Suite 417. Arlington, VA 22201: (703) 528-4200; fax: 
(703) 528-4205. 

Opportunities ■ Gigs 

ANIMATOR sought by Univ. of the Arts for full-time 
tenure-track position beg. Sept. 1 . Salary commensurate 
w/ exp. Req: MFA or equiv.. personal/experimental 
work in animation. Send resume, sample of work, 
statement of teaching philosophy & 3 names by Mar. 1 6. 
Contact: Alida Fish. Photo/Film/Animation Dept., 
Philadelphia College of Art & Design. 33 S. Broad St.. 
Philadelphia. PA 19102. 

A RT WAVES. Buff alo wkly public access cable program, 
seeks intem w/ editing skills to develop programming & 
manage editing suite. Contact: Andrew Deutsch, 
Hallwalls. 700 Main St.. 4th FL, Buffalo. NY 14202; 
(716)854-5828. 

EAGLE COMMUNICATIONS seeks writers to work on 
treatments, scripts or rewrites. Send resume, resume & 
treatment or resume & completed script to: Script Dept.. 
Eagle Communications. Castle Montone Ltd.. 413 
Sinclair Ave.. Atlanta. GA 30307; (404) 681-2715: fax: 
(404) 525-6840. 

HALLWALLS seeks volunteers to serve as house 
managers or technical directorfor Buffalo Contemporary 
Arts Center's spring season. No prior exp. necessary. 
Contact: Eileen Sullivan. Hallwalls. 700 Main St.. 4th 
fl„ Buffalo. NY 14202. 

JANE WALLACE SHOW seeks student interns. 
Responsibilities incl. research: assist, producers; 
bookings: general support. Send resumes to Joe 
Robinson. Jane Wallace Show. 718 Arch St.. Suite 501 
N.. Philadelphia. PA 19106. 

MAINE PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOP & Intl Film 
Workshops seek summer staff. Positions incl. film/ 
video prod, instructors, technical dir. film office mgr, 
film publicist, technical & admin, interns, course asst/ 



40 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



unit mgrs & work-study. Summer job fair & open house 
April 4 & 5; to schedule interview, call: (207) 236-858 1 . 
For complete list of positions avail., info & appl., call or 
write: Maine Photographic Workshops. Rockport, ME, 
04856. 

OHIO ARTS COUNCIL seeks nominations for 1993 
Support for Organizations Program Panels in all arts 
disciplines. l-2yrterms. Appl. deadline: Apr. 1. Contact: 
Sue Neumann, OAC, 727 East Main St., Columbus, OH 
43205-1796; (614) 466-2613 or -4541. 

PALENVILLE INTERARTS COLONY accepts appls for 
summer residencies. Priority to groups of collaborating 
artists. Deadline: April 1. For appl. & info, write: Palen- 
ville Interarts Colony, BSTC, Suite 4R, 2 Bond St., New 
York, NY 10012. 



Publications 

ACLU BRIEFING PAPER ON ARTISTIC FREEDOM 

addresses questions on censorship & provides overview 
of its history. $1 each/$5 for 25. Contact: ACLU Dept. 
L, Box 794. Medford, NY 1 1763. 

ART ON SCREEN directory of films & videos about the 
visual arts provides detailed info, on more than 900 
films & videos released btwn 1976 & 1990. S65/cloth, 
$35/paper. Contact: Annette Emerson, (617) 423-3900 
ext. 232. 

ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT COMMERCIAL 
PRODUCERS offers the 1991 Environmental Guide. 
Guide offers tips & sources to reduce, reuse & recycle in 
the office, on set & on location. Call (818) 763-2427 for 
details. 

FOUNDATION CENTER offers The Foundation Grants 
Index ($125); Film, Media & Communications Grant 
Guide ($55); National Directory of Corporate Giving 
($195) & The National Guide to Funding in Arts & 
Culture ($125). Contact: Foundation Center, 79 Fifth 
Ave., Dept. TS, New York, NY 10003-3050. 

INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION ASSOCIATIONS 

Tracking Trends in Corporate Video surveys salary 
trends in nonbroadcast video profession by region, yrs 
of exp. & industry. Discount for ITVA members; $50/ 
nonmembers. Contact: ITVA, 6311 N. O'Connor Rd., 
LB 51, Irving, TX 75039; (214)869-1112; fax: (214) 
869-2980. 

LOUIS B. MAYER LIBRARY is a reading, reference & 
research library devoted to motion pictures, TV, video 
& new moving image technologies. Open to visiting 
scholars, researchers, grad. students & members of the 
film & TV community. Telephone reference service: 
(213) 856-7655 or (213) 858-7660, 1-3:30 p.m. 

MADE A FILM IN ASIA? FIVF's Rockefeller-funded 
directory of production resources needs reliable contacts 
in Asia & Pacific. Contact: L. Somi Roy, FIVF, 625 
Broadway, 9th fl., NY, NY 10012; (212) 473-3400. 

MEDIA NETWORK, natl info, center for social issue 
media now distributing latest media guide. In Her Own 
Image: Films & Videos Empowering Women for the 
Future, listing over 80 films & videos. NTSC video 
featuring 6 of the films reviewed avail, free to community 
centers, women's groups, unions & educators. $7.50/ 
indiv. & grassroots groups; $1 1.50/institutions. Add $3 
for postage & handling. Contact: Media Network, 39 W. 
14th St., New York, NY 1001 1; (212) 929-2663; fax: 
(212)929-2732. 



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ORYX offers Directory of Research Grants 1992 & 
From Idea to Funded Project. For 60-day trial copy, 
contact: Oryx. 4041 N. Central at Indian School, Phoenix, 
AZ 85012-3397; (800) 279-ORYX; fax: (800) 279- 
4663. 

ROAR! 64-pg. book on media activism (producing, 
fundraising, pirate radio, low-power TV) from Paper 
Tiger TV, contains informative articles & nat'l media 
resource list. $10/retail; $7/student& wholesale. Contact: 
Helen Granger c/o PTTV, 229 Lafayette St., New York, 
NY 10012; (212) 420-9045. 

SOUTH END PRESS' Prime Time Activism: Media Stra- 
tegies for Organizing helps organizers apply politics to 
media campaigns. $12/paper; $30/cloth. 40% discount 
for 5 or more. Contact: South End Press, Box 741, 
Monroe, ME 04951; (800) 533-8478. 

Resources ■ Funds 

ARTISTS" PROJECT GRANTS avail, from Los Angeles 
Contemporary Exhibitions. $38,000 in 6-10 grants to 
indiv. artists or groups based in S. California or Hawaii. 
Deadline: Apr. 1. Call (213) 624-5650 for info. 

ARTS FORWARD FUND to support beleaguered arts 
organizations based in New York City has Mar. 15 
deadline for proposal submissions. Contact: Arts Forward 
Fund, c/o Art Matters Inc., 131 W. 24th St., New York, 
NY 10011; (212) 929-7190. 

DCTV COMMUNITY PROJECTS PROGRAM provides 
free or low-cost equipment for community-related 
projects. Contact: Community Projects, Downtown 
Community TV Center, 87 Lafayette St., New York, 
NY 10013; (212) 966-4510. 

ENVIRONMENTAL FILM RESOURCE CENTER assists 
people in locating existing films or making new ones. 
Helps identify funding sources, locate experienced 
technicians & advise on marketing & distribution. 
Contact: Environmental Film Resource Center, 324 N. 
Tejon St., Colorado Springs, CO 80903; (800) 736- 
8345. 

FILM IN THE CITIES offers regional film/video grants 
for independent productions based in MN, ND, SD, WI 
& IA. New projects eligible for up to $16,000; grants to 
$7,000 avail, for works-in-progress; Encouragement 
Grants to $3,000 avail, for promising indiv. w/ limited 
exp. Deadline: May 1. Free info, workshops to assist 
applicants in MN (March 1 8; 6 1 2-646-6 1 04); WI (March 
30 & 3 1 ; 4 1 4-229-697 1 /225-3560 & 608-244-0579); IA 
(April 1; 319-356-5200/351-7301 forappts.j.Forappl. 
contact: Margaret Weinstein or Kevin Winge, Film in 
the Cities, (612)646-6104. 

INDEPENDENT TELEVISION SERVICE announces its 
second open call for project proposals of all lengths & 
genres intended for broadcast on public TV. Guidelines 
now avail. Deadline: Mar. 16. Contact: ITVS, Box 
75455, St. Paul, MN 55175; (612) 225-9035. 

KODAK US EDUCATIONAL ALLOWANCE FOR FILM 
SCHOOL STUDENTS offers schools & students 20% 
discount on Eastman camera films. Contact any Kodak 
Motion Picture & Television Products Division sales 
office for details. 

THE MEDIA CENTER offers $500 grants to media 
artists & ind. producers in upstate NY. Avail, for video, 
audio & time-based computer arts. Send 3/4", VHS, 
Beta, 8mm, audio cassette or Amiga disk, resume & 
description of work by Mar. 1 5. Contact: Upstate Media 



42 THE INDEPENDENT 



MARCH 1992 



Regrant, the Media Center at VSW, 31 Prince St., 
Rochester, NY 14607; (716) 442-8676. 

NATIONAL BLACK PROGRAM CONSORTIUM'S 

Program Development Fund offers support to public TV 
prods from an Afrocentric perspective. Grants range 
from $1,000-$30,000. Deadline: Mar. 16. For guide- 
lines contact: NBPC, 929 Harrison Ave., Suite 104, 
Columbus, OH 43215; (614) 299-5355. 

NEA TRAVEL GRANTS PILOT PROGRAM provides 
travel support to artists, inch media artists, for int'l 
activities. Appls accepted from artists intending to work 
in Latin America & Caribbean, South & Southeast Asia 
or Africa. Deadline: May 15. Deadline for support for 
artists at int'l fests & exhibitions: May 1. Contact: 
International Program, National Endowment for the 
Arts, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Room 528, 
Washington, DC 20506; (202) 682-5422. 

NEW DAY FILMS, self-distribution cooperative for ind. 
producers, seeks new members w/ recent social issue 
docs for US nontheatrical markets. Deadline: Apr. 1. 
Contact: Ralph Arlyck, 79 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, 
NY 12601. 

NORTH CAROLINA ART COUNCILS Management/ 
Technical Assistance Grant, designed to help organ- 
izations improve their management effectiveness & 
strengthen programming & scholarships for nonprofit 
visual arts organizations awards btwn $300 & $1,000. 
Scholarship grants of $500 avail, to staff members in 
charge of programming & exhibitions. Deadline: 6 wks 
before funds are needed, no later than Apr. 1. Contact: 
NC Arts Council, Dept. of Cultural Resources, Raleigh, 
NC 27601-2807; (919) 733-21 11. 

PIFVA SUBSIDY PROGRAM announces new grants 
deadlines: Mar. 16, May 15, Jul. 1. Program helps 
Philadelphia Independent Film/Video Association 
members complete works. For guidelines & appl. call: 
(215)895-6594. 

SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION offers multi- 
cultural grants to indiv. artists & arts organizations 
related to an ethnic culture, rural, or tribal community. 
Max. organizational award: $2,500; max. indiv. award: 
$1,500. Deadline: Apr. 15, 1992. Call (803) 734-8696 
for appl. & info. 

STATE ARTS ADVOCACY LEAGUE OF AMERICA 

makes speakers avail, to arts organizations seeking 
advice on lobbying techniques, public arts support, 
censorship, public art legislation, etc. Contact: Elaine 
Young, (503) 588-2787 

VISUAL ARTIST INFORMATION HOTLINE of the Arts 
Consortium Library informs on funding, insurance & 
legal help. Call Mon.-Fri., 2-5 p.m.: (800) 232-2789. 



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THE INDEPENDENT 43 



MEMORANDA 



DONOR-ADVISED GRANTEES 

The two participating FIYF Donor- Ad\ ised Fund 
Foundations ha\e announced grant recipients. 
The Beldon Fund awarded $10,000 to each of 
two environmental media productions. Talking 
Garbage, by Jennifer and Leslie Schwerin of the 
IS Public Interest Research Group, and Choosing 
Power A National Energy Tragedy . by Shannon 
Faganand Far/inn Ulichof NuclearFree America. 
The Edelman Family Fund awarded $5,000 to 
Filial Sentence: AIDS in Prisons, by Carlos Ortiz, 
and Under Attack, by David Meieran. both spon- 
sored by Media Network: The KKK Boutique 
Ain't J usi Rednecks, by CamilleBillops and James 
Hatch, sponsored by Hatch-Billops Collection: 
and The Way We Look to a Song, by Stephanie 
Black, sponsored by Film News Now. 

MEMBERABILLA 

The National Endowment for the Humanities 

has awarded grants to AIVF members Eric 
Breitbart, Loni Ding, and Alexandra Isles. The 
New York State Council on the Arts 1992 
Media Production Grants Awards have been re- 
ceived by AIVFs Tony Avalos. Beth B. Pearl 
Bowser, Chris Bratton. Amy Chen, Norman 
Cowie, Ken Feingold. Kathy High. Chris Hill. 
Philip Mallory Jones. David Meieran. Cara Mertes, 
Rita Myers. Hye Jung Park. J.T. Takagi. Dan 
Reeves. David Shulman, ReaTajiri. Pat Saunders, 
and Lourdes Portillo. Congratulations! 

Ghost Dance, by Tim Schwab and Christine 
Craton. won a Red Ribbon at the American Film 
and Video Festival. Portland animator Rose 
Bond's Mallacht Macha garnered a Blue Ribbon 
at the AFVA Festival and the Charles Samu 
Award at the USA Film Festival. Bond was also 
honored at the Chicago International Children's 
Film Festival, as was David Fain, whose Oral 
Hygiene w as selected as Best Animated Produc- 
tion. Pamela Beere Briggs' feature documentary 
Funny Ladies: A Portrait of Women Cartoonists 
was also awarded an AFVA Blue Ribbon as well 
as third prize at the Athens International Film 
and Video Festival. Ellen Meyer's One Day You 
Hear... a documentary about four people's jour- 
neys with AIDS, won a Bronze Plaque at the 
Columbus International Film Festival and 
screened at the Fresno Gay and Lesbian Film 
Festival. 

The Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Fund 
awarded grants to videomakers Thomas Harris. 
Meena Nanji, and critic Ernest Larsen. Dena 
Aronson. recipient of the Intermedia Arts Di- 
verse Visions Grant, will commence w ork on her 
collaborative video Subtle Memories and Empty 
Promises. The Jerome Foundation awarded 
grants toZoe Beloff and Ellen Spiro.Beloff. along 
with Erik Knight, was also the recipient of an 
Apparatus Productions' Regrant award. The 
Center for New Television selected Terrence 
Doran as a Regional Fellowship winner and Dukey 
Dror. Stefaan Janssen. Joel Katz. Julia LeSage. 

44 THE INDEPENDENT 



Hyeonseok Seo. Luis Valdovino. Zeinabu irene 
Davis. Van McElwee. and Loretta Smith as tele- 
vision and consulting awards recipients. The 
Meadow s Foundation awarded Cynthia Salzman 
Mondell and Allen Mondell a grant to finish their 
documentary Beaut} Leaves the Bricks. Lynn 
Hershman received a Finishing Fund Grant from 
Women in Film. Los Angeles, and Donna Mungen 
was awarded a Lace Artists Projects Grant. 
Temple University student Hak-Sook Kim re- 
ceived an Eastman Scholarship Award and Rob 
Yeo garnered a S 10.000 Milwaukee County Art- 
ist Fellowship . 

A Mid-America Emmy was awarded to Jill 
Petzall for the script to her documentary Critical 
Stages by the National Academy of Television 
Arts and Sciences. A regional Emmy nomination 
was presented to producer Frank Green and 
scriptw riter Sharon Wood for The Forest Through 
the Trees, also the recipient of the Special Jury 
Award at the National Educational Film Festi- 
val. Also distinguished by the Academy were 
Louis Massiah. Thomas Ott. Jacqueline Shearer, 
and Paul Stekler. Emmy-nominated for their work 
on Eyes on the Prize II. At the First Annual IFP 
Gotham Awards. Irwin Young was presented 
with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Jennie 
Livingston received the Open Palm Award. 
Livingston's Paris is Burning was also over- 
whelmingly voted best documentary by the Na- 
tional Society of Film Critics. Calogero Salvo's 
Terranova fetched the award for best actress at the 
Festival Internacional de Santa Fe de Bogota. 
Documentarian Barry Strongin's video Gray Rocks 
has been awarded the grand prize in the Visions of 
US Home Video Contest. 

Congrats to Video Shorts competition w in- 
ners Skip Blum berg. Living in Flames: Paul Garrin. 
The Home! less) Is Where the Revolution Is: Ruth 
Hayes. Wanda: and Ron Taylor. Think about It. 
Further kudos are due Verna Huiskamp. whose 
film Jiggers netted second place at the Suffolk 
County Film Festival, and to Jan Andrew . w hose 
feature Lysistrata. Lysistrata: A Mystery in the 
Making was selected for the New York Experi- 
mental Film Festival. Doug Block's To Heck 
With Hollywood! was a winner in the Creative 
Documentary section of the San Sebastian Inter- 
national Film Festival. 

Elise Fried w on a CINE Golden Eagle for her 
documentary "Do You Take This Man 1 '' Paki- 
stani Arranged Marriages and a S5.000 AFI 
Regional Fellowship to complete the editing of a 
video shot in Czechoslovakia. Eduard Erslovas' 
Article XXI\ received the "Mention d'Honneur" 



at the XXIII Festival International du Film 
Maritime et d'Exploration in Toulon, France. 
The South Carolina Arts Commission has chosen 
Peter Friedman, Ralph Arlyck. and Brady Lew is 
to take part in the 1991/1992 Southern Circuit 
tour. Kudos to David Leiner, whose Time Expired 
won in the narrative category at the New York 
Expo of Short Film and Video, and to Freke 
Vuijst and Tana Ross, whose collaborative work 
The Last Dance won first place in the documen- 
tary category. Congrats to all! 



Watch your mailbox for details 
on the 

AIVF ANNUAL 

MEMBERSHIP 

MEETING 

Friday, April 24, 1992 
7:00 - 9:00 pm 

Nominations will be made for 

the 

AIVF/FIVF BOARD OF 

DIRECTORS 



UPCOMING SEMINARS 

FESTIVAL CIRCUIT CONFIDENTIAL 

Wednesday, March 1 1 , 7:00 pm. 
Downtown Community Television 
87 Lafayette. NYC (2 blocks below Canal). 
FTVFFestival Bureau director Kathyrn Bowser 
will moderate an evening of informative dis- 
cussion to help film and videomakers plan a 
successful festival strategy. 

Watch for details on 
FIVF's upcoming seminars! 

In May: Health insurance for independents. 
A panel of industry experts will outline the 
various options opens to independents and 
answer your questions. 

In June: Attorney Wilder Knight will address a 
variety of legal issues of concern to producers. 



I 1 

I Learn about the world of 
I independent media! 

I AIVF & FIVF need volunteers & interns to 

| w ork in their offices. 50 hours w ork will earn 

I you a free membership or two seminar passes. 

. Contact Kathryn Bowser (2 1 2) 473-3400 for 

' details. 

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APRIL 1992 

VOLUME 15, NUMBER 3 



Publisher: 

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Production Staff: 

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Advertising: 

National Distributor: 

Printer: 



Martha Gever 
Patricia Thomson 
Ellen Levy 
Kathryn Bowser 
Janice Drickey 
Mark Nash 
Barbara Osborn 
Karen Rosenberg 
Catherine Saalfield 
Toni Tread way 
Troy Selvarotnam 
Jeanne Brei 
Christopher Holme 
Laura D. Davis 
(212)473-3400 
Bernhard DeBoer 
(201)667-9300 
PetCap Press 



The Independent is published 10 times yearly by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. (FIVF), 
625 Broadway, 9th floor, New York, NY 10012, (212) 
473-3400, a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational 
foundation dedicated to the promotion of video and film, 
and by the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, Inc. (AIVF), the national trade association of 
independent producers and individuals involved in 
independent video and film. Subscription is included with 
membership in AIVF. Together FIVF and AIVF provide a 
broad range of educational and professional services for 
independents and the general public. Publication of The 
Independent is made possible in part with public funds 
from the New York State Council on the Arts and the 
National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 

The Independent welcomes unsolicited manu- 
scripts. Manuscripts cannot be returned unless a 
stamped, self-addressed envelope is included. No 
responsibility is assumed for loss or damage. 

Letters to The Independent should be addressed to 
the editor. Letters may be edited for length. 

All contents are copyright of the Foundation for 
Independent Video and Film, Inc. Reprints require written 
permission and acknowledgement of the article's 
previous oppearance in The Independent ISSN 
0731-5198 The Independent is indexed in the 
Alternative Press Index. 

t Foundation for Independent Video ond Film, Inc. 1992 

AIVF/FIVF STAFF MEMBERS: Martha Gever, executive 
director, Kathryn Bowser, administrative/festival bureau 
director, Anne Douglass, seminar/membership director; 
Mei-Ling Poon, bookkeeper; Stephanie Richardson, admin- 
istrative assistant; Anissa Rose, programs assistant. 

AIVF/FIVF BOARDS OF DIRECTORS: Eugene 
Aleinikoff, * Skip Blumberg, Charles Burnett, Christine 
Choy, Dee Davis (vice president), Loni Ding (secretary), Lisa 
Frigand,* Adrianne B. Furniss,* Martha Gever (ex officio), 
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (chair), Jim Klein, Regge Life,* Tom 
Luddy, * Lourdes Portillo, Robert Richter (president), Steve 
Savage,* James Schomus, Barton Weiss, Chuck 
Workman,* Debro Zimmerman (treasurer). 

* FIVF Board of Directors only 



2 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



CONTENTS 




COVER: In the seventies public access 
promised to rejuvenate democracy in 
America. Twenty years later, Andrew 
Bbu assesses the access record in "The 
Promise of Public Access." Also in this 
issue, Nathalie Magnan reports on the 
other Olympics — the international 
public access olympiad in Albertville, 
France. Cover illustration: © 1 992 
Victoria Kann. 



FEATURES 

22 The Promise of Public Access 

by Andrew Blau 

27 Albertville's Other Olympics 

by Nathalie Magnan 

4 LETTERS 

6 MEDIA CLIPS 

A Screen of One's Own: Independents Get Spotlight in First 
Look 

by Troy Selvaratnam 

Black Filmmaker Foundation Goes Hollywood 

by Patricia Spears Jones 

If Pigs Could Fly and Ads Made You Think 

by Holly Metz 

Plug Pulled on OSU Media Department 

by Ellen Levy 

ICAIC and the Cuban Movie Crisis 

by Kelly Anderson 

Sequels 

13 FIELD REPORTS 

A Fistful of Dollars: A Primer for Documentary Grant writing 

by Peter Miller 

Chinese Menu: Vancouver's Cinema of the Pacific Rim 

by Berenice Reynaud 

Let's Talk about Sex: New York's Lesbian and Gay Experimental 
Film Festival 

by Catherine Saalfield 

30 IN FOCUS 

Toast of the Town: NewTek's Video Toaster 

by Barbara Osborn 

32 IN AND OUT OF PRODUCTION 

by Troy Selvaratnam 

36 FESTIVALS 

by Kathryn Bowser 

38 CLASSIFIEDS 
40 NOTICES 

43 PROGRAM NOTES 

AIVF's Membership Survey Results 

by Martha Gever 

44 MEMORANDA 

Minutes from the AIVF/FIVF Board of Directors Meeting 






APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 3 



TALK ON THE CUBA PARTY 
LINE 

To the editor 

1 am appalled b\ the uncritical article on filmmaking in 
Cuba I Can We Talk '." January /Februan 1992]. Ha\e 
sour writers forgotten that this is a country from which 
people still escape on homemade raits, risking death at 
sea 'Are we next to expect an article on how benevolent 
the Khmer Rouge regime was. as told b) its toadie 
filmmakers 'Or perhaps some neo-Nazi filmmakers can 
tell us about how Adolph Hitler really liked the Jew sand 
onl) wished to relocate them to Madagascar? 

Ms Anderson and Ms. Gold do your readers a 
disservice in not questioning the motives of the parts 
hacks the> spoke to. I am disgusted to hear Rebecca 
Chavez's boast that she shot enough film to circle the 
equator 1 times. 1 suppose 30 pieces of silver go a long 
w a> in Cuba today . If you were to talk to Cuban exile 
filmmakers, such as Ivan Acosta and Jorge Ulla (both in 
New York), as well as myself, you would hear instead 
how we prefer to scrounge for money to make real films, 
rather than accept a paycheck to follow government 
orders on what films the party w ill allow to be made. 

As a final note, you might point out to your readers 
that Tomas Gutierrez Alea. the creator of the greatest 
Latin American film of all time. Memories of Underde- 
velopment, finally had to leave Cuba because he simply- 
had no more artistic freedom. That simple action proves 
that Castro makes room for hacks, but not for artists. 

Joseph M. Rumbaut 
Houston. Texas 

The authors reply 

Perhaps Mr. Rumbaut should check his own facts before 
calling us hack journalists. Santiago Alvarez, not Re- 
becca Chavez, was quoted as saying his footage would 
circle the equator 10 times. We used the quote to 
illustrate the commitment post-revolutionary Cuba has 
made to a cultural industry which, as Mr. Rumbaut 
himself admits, has produced some of the world's finest 
filmmakers. 

Our article included comments from many Cubans 
who are critical of the Cuban government but remain 
committed to the ideals of the revolution. Cuban social- 
ism has made a firm commitment to a state-supported 
cultural industry. It is unfortunate that filmmakers like 
Mr. Rumbaut have to scrounge for money and produce 
films without public funding in this country. 

The purpose of our article was to add the voices of 
Cubans from the island to a debate from which they have 
too often been excluded in this country. In this compli- 
cated historical moment, nothing will be accomplished 
if we continue to have only one-sided discussions. 

And lastly. Tomas Gutierrez Alea is living in Cuba. 
He is starting production on a film that sympathetically 
portrays a relationship between a gay man and a party 
militant, based on a recent short story by Senel Paz. 
How's that for party line? 



GULF WAR GAFF 

To the editor: 

We were pleased to see Danny Schechter's article "The 
Gulf War and the Death of TV News" in your January/ 




February issue. All of us here were similarly discour- 
aged by the Gulf War and its coverage and have thought 
a lot about the issues that Mr. Schechter so forcefully 
addressed. But we were surprised and disappointed that 
Mr. Schechter omitted any reference to America's De- 
fense Monitor. 

The series airs on more than 90 PBS stations (including 
Channel 13 in New York) and over 500 cable outlets 
through the VISN network. We produced eight episodes 
on the Iraq War, covering the conflict for months before 
and after the actual combat. The series had a more 
diverse range of views and was much harder-hitting than 
the network programming criticized in Mr. Schechter's 
article. The audience for the eight episodes was probably 
as large as the combined audience for the programs you 
mentioned as positive exceptions to the general trend 
(Deep Dish T\ '. The 90' s. etc. ) What a shame it is when 
even in the small world of the independent community 
we fail to call attention to existing quality resources — 
the very resources Mr. Schechter was decrying the 
absence of. 

Sanford Gottlieb 

Senior producer. America's Defense Monitor 

Washington. D.C. 

Schechter replies: 

Through an oversight. I neglected to mention the fine 
work of America' s Defense Monitor in my article on 
media coverage of the Gulf War. The always-informa- 
tive weekly series, produced by the Center for Defense 
Information, did eight programs on the Gulf War. offer- 
ing perspectives that were unavailable on the networks, 
including one report on the media's role. 

Readers interested in more discussions of these is- 
sues might turn to a new study by John Fialka called The 
Hotel Warriors: Covering the Gulf War. and Second 
Front, the new book from John MacArthur, the pub- 
lisher of Harper' s. 



KITTEN LAPS IT UP 

Dear cat: 

Finally, in my five years of reading The Independent. 1 
read something that set me on fire. And made me cry. 
Because finally someone out there who has been fight- 
ing long and hard had the gumption to reach out to those 
of us who are just beginning the fight. 

Until your letter [Jill Godmilow's "An Exercise in 
Gauntlet-Throwing by a Tired Old Indy Cat to All Self- 
Proclaimed Indy Kittens under 30 Who Will Listen." 
December 1991]. the view from here — ultra-conserva- 
tive, ultra-suburban, down-home barbecue and shop- 
ping mall Charlotte, North Carolina — was right close to 
hopeless. Yes, we have some media arts organizations 
and a few small festivals, but Tongues Untied was re- 
fused broadcast throughout the state, and mindless TV 
rules the souls of too many people here who can't even 
read or write. 



So last Saturday night I came home after freelancing 
all week on television commercials (my living), ex- 
hausted and pissed off at the wasted money and over- 
blown egos, drank a glass of wine, and read your letter. 
1 had seen your name for years and some of your art icles; 
so I read it. and it woke me up. Not because the 
government has been persuaded to fund something 
other than bombs, not because PBS needs a shot in the 
arm. but because you cared enough about this country 
and about us to fight like hell to get ITVS in place. 

And then you cared enough to challenge us and make 
us feel as if we were wanted and needed and valued. I'm 
a baby-buster. I am now inheriting the excesses of many 
of your and my parent's generation. I see a world ahead 
full of great struggle and anger. I see my living standards 
fading away. And I see my rights being whittled away. 
Like many people my age. I am reluctantly angry, 
cynical, and pessimistic. Reluctantly, because I con- 
stantly want to believe that "things" will get better, that 
I will make the films I want to make, sell the ones I've 
already made, maintain a standard of living so that I can 
continue to make films and videos, and raise hell til I 
drop. So my cynicism is counter-productive: I submit to 
it because at times it seems I'm forced to. 

But to hear from someone who has fought the battles 
already, to read such inspired, passionate arguments, to 
feel such hopeful, selfless feelings coming from a cat 
like you brought tears to my eyes. I finally felt as if 
someone was watching over me. Someone cared enough 
to challenge all of us. because we are out there and we 
are passionate, but we are also cowed. Your letter gave 
me, and I'll bet a lot of us out there, much-needed 
encouragement. So I got up. put on my shoes, and at 9:00 
on a Saturday night did what my father did in his 
struggling days: I worked. I went to my computer and sat 
down to continue writing my screenplay. You'll get a 
copy with the ITVS application by or before the dead- 
line, Jill. Thanks. 

Dome Pentes 
Charlotte, North Carolina 

To the editor: 

I loved Jill Godmilow 's open letter. Several years ago I 
headed an access organization in Columbus. Ohio, and 
became very dissatisfied with having to justify our 
existence twice a year before a city council that really 
wanted to spend those attractive cable dollars fixing 
potholes. Our motto back then was "Access — We put 
the Public Back into Public Television." I always tried 
to stress the point that documentary-makers should not 
just "do their thing." but should try to be interactive. We 
encouraged phone-in segments immediately following 
docs to stimulate discussion. I would have loved to do 
the same on PBS or even on those magnanimous affili- 
ates, but it was not to be. 

The years went by; I'm way past 30 and need to pick 
my battles carefully, so I switched fields. This is not a 
recommendation for all indies, but I truly believe in in- 
teractive television — videodisc. CD-ROM. and CD-I. I 
moved to the media side of education to help people 
more effectively interact with video. I love it. I get 
reward. And I offer this addendum to Jill's letter: The 
independent way of life requires sacrifice, so decide 
soon how much energy you will sacrifice producing 
(which is work, but fun) and how much energy you will 
sacrifice (joylessly) writing grant applications, kissing 
butts, and otherwise trying to move mountains with a 
teaspoon. 

Michael Langthorne 
Notre Dame. Indiana 



4 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



EVERY PICTURE TELLS A 
STORY 

To the editor. 

Is the art of telling fiction stories with video a thing of the 
past? I've read scores of articles in The Independent 
about documentaries dealing with environmental activ- 
ism and all kinds of minorities of varied nationalities, 
color, and gender; grants and funding; the politics of 
cable, public programming, and festivals; and, once in a 
while, an informative piece on hardware — such as hi-8 
and S-VHS. 

These articles surely belong in The Independent. But 
isn't it equally important to talk about using modern 
techniques to tell fiction stories? As one who plunged in 
and used a single consumer VHS to shoot his first 40- 
minute feature, I know that there must be hundreds of 
AIVF members who either are or would like to be 
shooting features as well as documentaries. 

There appears to be a great leaning toward documen- 
taries in the festivals Kathryn Bowser pulls together for 
us each month. Many of those festivals are exclusive in 
terms of group, color, nationality, gender, sexual orien- 
tation, or special interest. The great thing about doing 
fiction, however, is that it crosses all those boundaries. 

Isn't there a way to encourage independents to pro- 
duce innovative, off-beat, and well-done fiction stories 
using low-end equipment and high-end imagination and 
skills? And to find new ways for them to show their 
features to tens of thousands of people, instead of scores 
of friends? That would help build a reservoir of new, 
ground-breaking writers, producers, directors, and video- 
graphers outside the very narrow commercial field and 
push back the boundaries of good storytelling in America. 

Peter Olwyler 
Gto.. Mexico 



Invaluable for Directors, Producers & Writers of live action material 



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during this transition period. 



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APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 5 




A SCREEN OF ONE'S OWN 

Independents Get Spotlight in Kodak's First Look 



The Eastman Kodak Compan\. in partnership 
with the Tribeca Film Center and the New York 
Foundation for the Arts < NYFA). has inaugurated 
a pilot project of screenings designed to give 
independent films a higher profile in the New 
York film community. Dubbed First Look, the 
series "gives films that need an extra push, that 
extra push." says Tribeca president Peter Rosen- 
thal. 

The pilot series is scheduled to run from Febru- 
ary 1992 to February 1993 and will screen a new 
independent feature on the second Tuesday of the 
month at the Tribeca Film Center before an in- 




dependents get a new monthly venue 
at the Tribeca Film Center. 

Courtesy Tribeca Film Center 



vited film industry audience of theatrical distribu- 
tors, television buyers, foreign sales agents, talent 
agents, literary agents, and producers' and festi- 
val representatives. Although there is no stipend 
for exhibited works, press releases and trade paper 
coverage w ill accompany each screening. 

The series seeks to cover a broad crosssection 
of themes, ethnicities, and genres. Features in 
need of completion funds as well as completed 
features not yet in distribution w ill be considered 
for the project. "We have a vested interest in the 
survival of the filmmaking industry." says Kodak's 
Charles Wilkinson, "so we want to establish a 
rapport, a credibility, w ith filmmakers at all points 
of the budget spectrum." 

"Many of the ideas that went into First Look 
were fostered by the Independent Feature Project 



(1FP). who worked with Kodak at the project's 
beginning." say Rosenthal. An advisory board 
was chosen in the series' nascent stages by orga- 
nizers Rosenthal. Wilkinson. Lynda Hansen, di- 
rectoroftheNYFA's Artists' New Works Depart- 
ment, and Kodak publicist Donna Daniels. The 
board recommends films and shorts to series' 
selection committee. Eventually there will be 
open calls, though details have not yet been estab- 
lished for independents who wish to submit works 
for consideration. Composed of members involved 
in independent film production and related fields, 
the board and committee "reflect the scope of the 
independent community." says Daniels. They in- 
tend to make an effort to locate directors whose 
films have been eschewed by acquisitions people 
because of their supposed lack of marketability. 

But Rosenthal makes it clear that First Look 
will not merely try to promote independent fea- 
tures as potentially mainstream products. "Our 
concern is less to do w ith the ultimate marketplace 
for these films and more to do with creating a 
showcase for works that might otherwise escape 
the attention of the industry." says Rosenthal. 

Formore information contact: Peter Rosenthal. 
Tribeca Film Center. 375 Greenw ich St.. 11 th fl.. 
New York.NY10013:(212)941-4000.fax:(212) 
941-3997. 

TROY SELVARATNAM 

BLACK FILMMAKER 
FOUNDATION GOES 
HOLLYWOOD 

Over the past decade the New York-based Black 
Filmmaker Foundation (BFF) has forged strong 
ties to Hollywood. Now. with the help of a 
S 1 00.000 contribution from Warner Brothers. BFF 
is expanding that relationship by establishing a 
Los Angeles office. First launched by an in-kind 
donation of space and equipment from Columbia 
Pictures, the LA office will aid in BFF's efforts to 
establish programs and build membership and 
clout on the West Coast. 

The Hollywood BFF opened in February in 
Columbia-owned offices off the studio lot in Los 
Angeles. Andre Robinson. Jr. BFF's new execu- 
tive director, is supervising both the New York 
and LA offices. In addition, the new BFF has a 
programming manager and administrative assis- 
tant on staff. The Los Angeles office w ill provide 
the same programs and benefits to members as 
New York's — monthly screenings, workshops. 



6 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



«»?".• 












i4/IF 



18 REASONS TO 

JOINAIVF 

TODAY 

1. Advocacy 
2. The Independent 

3. Festival Bureau Files 

4. Festival Consultation 
5. Festival Liaison Service 

6. Members' Tape Library 

7. Distribution 

8. Seminars 

9. Books and Tapes 

10. Information 

11. Liability Insurance 

12. Libel Insurance 

13. Health, Disability, 

and Life Insurance 

14. Dental Plan 

15. Service Discounts 

16. Car Rental Savings 

17. Credit Card Plan 

18. Video Rental Discounts 




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NOME ME NO 






ENTER THE 

8th ANNUAL 

VISIONS OF U.S. 

HOME VIDEO 

CONTEST 







Here's your opportunity to create an 
original video production and have your 
work judged by video professionals-with the 
chance to win valuable Sony prizes. 

The contest, sponsored by Sony and 

administered by the American Film Institute, 

is an invitation for you to express your 

vision-on 8mm, VHS or Beta. Just choose a 

category-fiction, non-fiction, 

music video or experimental- 

and start shooting. Submit 

your work by June 15, 1992 

and a distinguished panel of 

judges comprised of LeVar 

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You'll be in competition for an 
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To find out more about how you can get your 
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write Visions of U.S., P.O. Box 200, 
Hollywood, CA 90078. 



THE EIGHTH R N N U R L 





OF U.S. VIDEO CONTEST 



The Visions of U.S. Video Contest is sponsored by Sony Corporation of America and administered by The American Film Institute. 



The American Excess TV spots show 

how North Americans — just five 

percent of the world's population — 

hog one-third of its resources. 

Courtesy Canadian Medio Foundation 



and showcases —but each office will (ailor events 
to its citj "s industry. "You have a larger base of 
working film practitioners in Los Angeles," ex- 
plains Robinson, "so our workshops will need to 
address not only how to get in. but how to maintain 
\ ourself in the business." 

Robinson contends that the LA office renews, 
rather than reneges on. BFF's traditional commit- 
ment to independent work and anticipates that its 
proximity to the studios will enhance rather than 
constrain independent production. "We will be 
able to help serve as a conduit between filmmak- 
ers and the studios' distribution networks." specu- 
lates Robinson.'The current flowering of black 
filmmaking came out of and was fueled by the 
independent movement. Hopefully, (the new of- 
fice] will help independents get money to do those 
same films. It's really a matter of developing an 
audience for this sort of thing." 

The S 1 00,000 grant — the largest corporate con- 
tribution ever given to BFF — was presented to 
BFF president and cofounder Warrington Hudlin 
in September. According to Warner publicist 
Charlotte Gee, the contribution was in recognition 
of BFF's unique position as the major proselytizer 
of black independent filmmaking and BFF's abil- 
ity to introduce new commercially viable black 
talent to the industry. The contribution is "an 
extension of Warner Brothers' involvement with 
the Black Filmmaker Foundation," according to 
Gee. Warner Brothers produced Mario Van 
Peebles' New Jack City, Kevin Hooks' Strictly 
Business, and Spike Lee's forthcoming Malcolm 
X. The contributions from the two studios come 
with no strings attached, according to Lisa Clarke, 
BFF's program coordinator. 

Started 1 3 years ago by Hudlin, Alric Nemblard. 
and George Cunningham, BFF has played a piv- 
otal role in developing an awareness of black 
filmmakers and building audiences for their pro- 
ductions through its efforts as a distributor and 
exhibitor. Currently BFF has more than 2.000 
members to whom it provides a number of ser- 
vices, including screenings and workshops for 
writers, directors, and actors. 

Warner Brothers' contribution followed on the 
heels of Columbia Pictures' donation of$ 100.000 
in equipment and office space. These corporate 
contributions exhibit Hollywood's growing ac- 
ceptance of blacks, but it remains to be seen what 
support will be provided to independent black 
filmmakers whose vision cannot fuel box office 
receipts. 




For more information, contact the West Coast 
office at 3619 Motor Ave., Suites 310-314, Los 
Angeles, CA 90034; (310) 559-0070. 

PATRICIA SPEARS JONES 

Patricia Spears Jones is an African American 
poet, arts writer, and dedicated cineast. 

IF PIGS COULD FLY AND ADS 
MADE YOU THINK 

Television advertisements have introduced us to 
singing Fruit of the Looms and men encased in 
blocks of mucus, so you wouldn't think a belch- 
ing pig or a talking tree would startle commercial 
station managers. But Boston TV executives 
balked when the Canadian Media Foundation, a 
Vancouver-based nonprofit group, tried to buy 
time this past Christmas to air seven alternative 
advertisements. The foundation's ads, which are 
intended to provoke thought instead of purchases, 
include a }>0-$zcon<i American Excess spot featur- 
ing a giant pig bursting out of a map of North 
America and contentedly burping as the narrator 
urges viewers to cancel wasteful shopping binges. 
Other foundation ads depict clay animation trees 
pleading with the audience to save old-growth 
forests and present zombie-eyed children illumi- 
nated by that familiar flickering light while a 
voiceover warns, "Kathy is eight and she's ad- 
dicted." 

All three network affiliates in Boston refused 
to air the paid ads because they considered them 
"too controversial," according to Kalle Lasn, co- 
editor of Adbusters, the Canadian Media 
Foundation's quarterly magazine. "We would not 
broadcast a commercial that denigrated televi- 
sion," Matthew Margo, CBS vice president of 
program practices, told reporters at the time. "We 
also don't broadcast commercials that take con- 
troversial positions on important topics. If we did. 



companies with the finances at hand would con- 
trol the national agenda." 

But that's precisely what's happening now, 
argues Lasn, who contends that North America is 
currently dominated by product pushers whose 
ads promote consumerism and a lifestyle that is 
destroying the planet. Grassroots activists, says 
Lasn, need to buy time on the public airwaves to 
encourage dialogue and "sell ideas instead of 
soap." The foundation itself evolved in the late 
eighties out of the efforts of Vancouver-based 
environmentalists to counter TV advocacy ads 
sponsored by British Columbia logging interests 
as part of a multimillion-dollar public relations 
campaign. 

The foundation's commercials are available 
free of charge to anyone willing to raise the funds 
to buy time on local stations, where airtime is not 
prohibitively expensive. While a 30-second slot 
on primetime national TV costs about $180,000, 
the same amount of time can be purchased on 
local late-night TV for as little as $30, reports 
Adbusters. So far, ads have appeared in the US on 
a local commercial TV station in Montana and a 
cable show in Minnesota. And there are plans to 
introduce foundation ads to network affiliate sta- 
tions in Los Angeles and New York in 1992. 
Japanese and German translations of the ads are 
also in the works with an eye to their distribution 
abroad. 

Lasn and his colleagues hope that up-and- 
coming alternative admakers will replace "some 
of the 12-minutes per hour reserved for selling 
soap and pop" with information about "their pas- 
sionate causes." Toward that goal, each issue of 
Adbusters includes an installment of "Media 
Wrenching: A User's Manual," a step-by-step 
guide to producing ads for under $2,000 and 
getting them on the air. Installments even provide 
advice on how to fight for airtime if a station 
refuses to accept spots for broadcast — advice the 



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foundation may soon have to follow since it is 
considering taking legal action against the Boston 
affiliates. 

To obtain a free broadcast-quality tape or in- 
formation on Adbusters magazine, contact: The 
Media Foundation. 1243 West 7th Avenue, 
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 1 B7, Canada; 
tel: (604) 736-9401. 

HOLLY METZ 

Holly Met: writes regularly on social, legal, and 
cultural topics for the Progressive and the 
American Bar Association's Student Lawyer 
magazine. 

PLUG PULLED ON OSU 
MEDIA DEPARTMENT 

On May 13, 1991, Donald Harris, dean of the 
College of the Arts at Ohio State University in 
Columbus, issued a memo proposing to "deacti- 
vate" the Department of Photography and Cinema 
(DPC). which has been in existence for over 60 
years. The term "deactivation" was later changed 
to "termination," which according to OSU Aca- 
demic Affairs guidelines "is the final step which 
removes the program from the possibility of fu- 
ture reactivation." The results of a secret ballot 
conducted in February among the College of the 
Arts faculty came out strongly in favor of termina- 
tion, leaving just two steps remaining before the 
department is closed: a vote by the University 
Senate, and a vote by the OSU Board of Trustees. 
The proposed termination is particularly alarming 
since it is taking place within a large university — 
more likely to weather political and financial 
vagaries than smaller colleges — raising questions 
about whether the action is a harbinger of hard 
timesto come for media departments across the 
country. 

"That a university is closing down the depart- 
ment which does and can study the way the mass 
media is functioning in today's society. ..(at) this 
moment in history is catastrophic," laments Peter 
Watkins. Oscar-winning filmmaker, media critic, 
and visiting scholar at OSU. "I think it indicates 
that there is not an awareness of how extremely 
urgent the need is for students to be given a proper 
education in critical visual literacy." 

A petition against termination of the depart- 
ment was signed by over 1,500 faculty, students, 
alumni, and media professionals from the US and 
Canada, and a letter-writing campaign garnered 
support from a variety of groups, including the 
University Film and Video Association and the 
National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, 
as well as faculty at Rochester Institute of Tech- 
nology (RIT). Texas Christian University, 
Stanford. Howard University, and Oklahoma State 
University. 

In a letter sent to an alumnus who raised con- 
cerns about the proposal, chairman of the OSU 
Board of Trustees, Hamilton J. Teaford, cites 
decreasing student enrollment and faculty attri- 



tion as principal reasons for the proposed termin- 
ation. But the department remains the second 
largest of the College of the Arts' eight depart- 
ments judging by enrollment, according to The 
Lantern, OSU's student newspaper. Ardine 
Nelson, associate professor in the DPC, told The 
Lantern in August that the faculty had been spe- 
cifically instructed not to search for replacements 
for the three faculty members whose intended 
departures put the faculty count at seven, below 
the minimum of 1 required for department status 
under university rules. 

Harris The Lantern, that the proposal "was 
taken for one reason alone, and that is to better 
serve the stu-dents of this university," but students 
have had little opportunity to participate in the 
decision. At two forums held in January and 
February stu-dents and alumni had only a few 
minutes to speak at the end of each meeting. 
Undergraduate and graduate students will be 
allowed to complete their degrees according to the 
College adminis-tration, but scheduling has 
reportedly been a prob-lem as classes have been 
cancelled. In August, The Lantern reported that 
the university was of-fering alternative courses to 
degree candidates, but Nelson expressed concern 
about whether such alternatives would provide 
equivalent information. Animation 557, arequired 
course for cinematog-raphy majors, was dropped 
from the fall curriculum and an art education 
course offered as an alter-native, according to 
Nelson. Sections of re-quired Photography and 
Cinema courses were also reportedly cancelled, 
limiting the number of students who could enroll. 
Some graduate students were having difficulty 
finding any courses to take the following quarter, 
according to The Lantern. 

For many opponents of the termination, the 
process has been almost as disturbing as the pro- 
posal. Though no official decision has been 
reached, the department has been all but dis- 
mantled. The photography and cinema faculty 
were transferred on paper into the Art, Art His- 
tory, and Theater departments as of September 
1991. With the exception of three employees, 
administrative staff were also transferred to other 
departments in September. 

Objections have also been raised about the 
procedure for polling College of the Arts faculty 
regarding termination. On the same day that the 
faculty received ballots to vote on the proposal. 
they received a personal endorsement of the ter- 
mination from associate dean of the College of the 
Arts, Judith Koroscik. Koroscik's memo (which 
some faculty reportedly received attached to the 
ballot by paperclip) highlighted the "extreme and 
longstanding hostility among the department's 
faculty members." the effect of the "divisiveness" 
on the students, and urged a vote for termination. 
Koroscik maintains that the arrival of ballot and 
memo together was unintentional. 

The College of the Arts has raised the possibilty 
of creating a Media Center for the Arts to replace 
the Department of Photography and Cinema, but 



10 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



plans remain sketchy and not everyone welcomes 
the horse trade. "Media centers primarily address 
issues of funding and research," DPC associate 
professor Clayton Lowe told the OSU Council on 
Academic Affairs last November. "Departments 
primarily address issues of teaching and learning. 
The differences are fundamental and critical. These 
are the kinds of things we should be talking about 
before the University starts destroying depart- 
ments — particularly departments that play such a 
crucial role in the education of students who will 
be working in the world of information and enter- 
tainment." 

ELLEN LEVY 

ICAIC AND THE CUBAN 
MOVIE CRISIS 

Julio Garcia Espinosa, the head of the Cuban Film 
Institute (ICAIC) for the past nine years, has been 
replaced by Alfredo Guevara, who served as the 
institute's directorfrom 1960to 1982. The change 
in leadership for the internationally institute came 
in the wake of a series of politically controversial 
events which have called into question the role of 
ICAIC and cinema within Cuba's political pro- 
cess. 

Espinosa's firing occured after the release of 
Alicia en el Pueblo de Maravillas (Alice in Won- 
dertown), one of three feature films produced by 
the institute in 1991. The film, which won a prize 
in Berlin, is a satiric portrayal of a young woman's 
adventures in Wondertown — a morally bankrupt 
and contradictory place which can be read a a 
metaphor for present-day Cuba. Despite its popu- 
larity in Cuba, the film had only a four-day run 
instead of the more usual two weeks for ICAIC 
films. Press editorials and reviews condemned the 
film. "[The film] ends up reducing the historical 
project of the revolution to an insulting carica- 
ture," said a review in the official newspaper 
Granma. 

The film's director, Daniel Diaz Torres, de- 
fends the work by arguing that critical debate is 
necessary if the revolution is to move forward. "I 
stand here as a revolutionary filmmaker who 
understands that we are taking positive steps to 
resolve our contradictions," Torres says. "There 
is a serious, calm, and mature debate going on 
with the leadership of the revolution." 

Espinosa's firing coincided with a plan an- 
nounced by the government — and published as an 
accomplished fact in the official government news- 
paper — that ICAIC would merge with the 
government's Institute of Cuban Radio and Tele- 
vision and the media production units of the 
Revolutionary Armed Services and Ministry of 
Education. ICAIC's directors drafted a letter of 
protest against the merger which is widely be- 
lieved to have been intended to rein in ICAIC's 
historical freedom of expression, although press 
reports that the government acted from a need to 
cut costs would appear to have some validity 
considering the current economic crisis. 




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12 THE INDEPENDENT 



The change of head and proposed merger raise 
questions about the future of the Cuban cultural 
industry. Todale, Alicia en el Pueblode.Maravillas 
has not been rereleased for public viewing, and 
ICAIC remains a discrete entity. According to 
Guevara, a special commission consisting of film- 
makers and government representatives is cur- 
rently considering the future of both the film and 
the organization. 

KELLY ANDERSON 

Kelly Anderson is an independent producer and 
writer based in New York City. 



SEQUELS 

Timothy Gunn. former director of product mar- 
keting for New York City 's WNETAThirteen, has 
replaced Gretchen Dykstra as director of Na- 
tional Video Resources (NVR). Dykstra is cur- 
rently president of the Times Square Business 
Improvement District in New York City. Andrew 
Blau has joined the Electronic Frontier Founda- 
tion as staff associate for telecommunications 
policy. Job changes are underway at the Public 
Broadcasting System. Glenn Dixon left his posi- 
tion as director of News and Public Affairs Pro- 
gramming at PBS. Associate director Karen 
Watson is acting head until Dixon's replacement 
is found. Sandra Heberer. former director of 
PBS' Science and History Programming, has as- 
sumed the directorship of PBS' new News and 
Information Programming division, which will 
oversee News and Public Affairs. Pierre-I. 
Girard. former director of communications for 
the influential Quebec newspaper Le Devoir, as- 
sumed the position of coordinator for the Montreal- 
based Independent Film and Video Alliance. 
Carlos Gutierrez-Solanas, former director of 
the New York State Council on the Arts' Visual 
Artists Program, has become executive director of 
Artists Space. Alexander Quinn. former general 
manager of Multnomah Community Television 
in Portland. Oregon, has been named executive 
director of the Manhattan Community Access 
Corporation. Robert Shuman left the Learning 
Channel, where he was president, after its pur- 
chase by Discovery Communications and assumed 
the presidency of American Community Service 
Network Productions. Shuman remains executive 
director of The Independents series, which will 
continue to air on the Learning Channel. 

DISTRIBUTORS AReI 
LOOKING FOR YOU! 

LOOK FOR THEM IN 

THE INDEPENDENT 
CLASSIFIEDS 

DISTRIBUTION OPPORTUNITIES 
SEE PAGE 38 

APRIL 1992 



FIELD REPOR 



A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS 

A Primer lor Documentary Grdntwriting 



PETER MILLER 







In theory, independent film- and videomaking 
provide us freedom to express ourselves however 
we wish. But if we want to be funded, it helps to 
have a project that people with money want to see 
made. 

Raising money need not be a miserable obliga- 
tion which takes you away from filmmaking. Try 
to think of writing a proposal as part of the creative 
process of making a movie. Fundraising can pro- 
vide an opportunity to step back from a film or 
video and figure out its fundamental strengths and 
weaknesses. Resentment of the process is likely to 
show through in your funding proposals, while an 
enthusiastic proposal may help you get the money 
you need. 

A typical funding appeal consists of three key 
elements: a written proposal, a sample of your 



Ixewrite your proposal until it looks like a 
movie you might want to see. Be sure to 
relate typical scenes, even if you have to 
dream them up. 



film/videomaking work, and a budget. These ele- 
ments should support one another so that your 
proposal feels united, well thought-out, and per- 
suasive. 

The Written Proposal 

I usually start fundraising by writing a generic 
proposal. In two to four pages, I try to distill the 
essence of the film or video, its relevance, impor- 
tance, artistic approach, and the producer's quali- 
fications. This generic document is then reworked 
for individual funders to conform to their require- 
ments and philosophy. 

A few fundamentals to keep in mind: 
1. Write clearly and precisely about your 
project. Sum up what you're trying to do in the 
first sentence or two. Don't go off the deep end 
relating the history and background of your sub- 
ject. Instead, write about your film as if it were a 
film. This is hard to do if you don't know exactly 
what your film is about. Take plenty of time to try 
to explain your project to your friends, and rewrite 
yourproposal until it looks like a movie you might 
want to see. Be sure to relate typical scenes, even 
if you have to dream them up. Explicitly discuss 



your film/videomaking technique, and be sure it is 
reflected in the scenes you've related. Clearly 
explain why your project is important, how it is 
different from similar works, and why the world 
needs it. 

2. Be explicit about the ways in which your film/ 
video will advance the mission of the funder you 
are approaching. Find out what the intellectual, 
artistic, or political goals of your potential funder 
are, and take these goals very seriously when 
writing about your project. Mark up foundation 
annual reports and giving guidelines with a 
highlighter and draw on these documents as inspi- 
ration for your own writing. If the funder you're 
approaching has formal application procedures, 
follow them to the letter. Answer every question 
in the order asked. Remember, the same people 
who developed the application guidelines may 
well be deciding whether to fund your project. 

3. Take the issue of distribution very seriously. 
It's important to be clear about the audience for 
your project. What age group is it intended to 
reach? Is it aimed at a mass audience or a more 
targetted group? Is it a teaching tool? Will it be 
used in an organizing context? 

Line up real names of potential users of your 
film or video. Funders want people to see the w ork 
they've funded, and the better you explain exactly 
how this will happen, the more likely it is that 
you'll be funded. Get letters from community 
organizations, educators, television stations, film 
programmers, or anyone else who might be inter- 
ested in showing your film or video and include 
them with your application. 

4. Clearly explain who you are and why you ' re 
qualified to make the film or video. If you're not 
yet a well-known producer, surely you have some 
attributes to recommend you. It is better to de- 
scribe yourself in the most positive terms poss- 
ible than to be humble and not get funded. Con- 
sider linking up with other well-qualified people — 
camera operators, editors, executive producers, 
codirectors — who might bolster your proposal. 

You will need to secure a nonprofit fiscal 
sponsor to receive money from most foundations 
[See "Now a Word about Our Sponsor," January/ 
February 1991]. If it will help your cause, con- 
sider choosing a thematically appropriate spon- 
soring organization. For example, while raising 
money for a documentary on southern labor his- 
tory, I applied to several foundations as a project 
of a respected southern studies organization. The 
organization's good reputation lent our project a 



APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 13 



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legitimacy in the eyes of hinders it might not have 
had if we had applied as a New York-based arts 
project. 

5. Pay attention to appearances. A neat pro- 
posal with large type, clear headings, and even an 
occasional illustration is much easier to appreci- 
ate than one crammed to the margins with tiny 
text, no matter how brilliant. 

The Sample Tape 

The sample you choose is of tremendous im- 
portance to the success of your application. A 
staffer at the Paul Robeson Fund for Film and 
Video tells of watching 100 work samples in three 
days. A strong sample will help distinguish your 
proposal from the run-of-the-mill reels. Con- 
versely, if your tape is confusing, irrelevant, or 
hard to watch, what"s to say your finished work 
will be any better? 

Usually you can either submit a work-in- 
progress or a completed past work. Whichever 
you send, be sure that it relates to your written 
proposal and include with the application a clear, 
written explanation of exactly how it relates. 
Describe your approach to technique or subject 
matter, calling attention to those elements that 
may set you apart. Do you spend years living with 
your subject, shoot from a hot-air balloon, or use 
an unusual approach to lighting, editing, or narra- 
tion? Explain how these techniques are reflected 
in the sample. 

If sending a completed work, try to choose one 
that is stylistically or thematically relevant to your 
proposed project. When submitting a work-in- 
progress, place it in context. Be sure to describe 
what's going on in the sample scenes, who the 
characters are (if they 're not identified), and where 
the scenes might fit into the completed work. If 
necessary, explain technical problems, like vis- 
ible time code or scratchy, untimed workprint. 

Speak with the funder's staff about their proce- 
dure for viewing samples. If they have a time 
limit, respect it, and be sure to cue your tape 
properly. Often funders won't look at more than 
10 minutes; so keep that in mind before cutting a 
longer piece. 

It is not necessary that the material in your 
sample actually make it into the finished film or 
video. At a Foundation for Independent Video 
and Film (FIVF) seminar on fundraising, Stephanie 
Black told of raising her First money for H-2 
Worker, a documentary on Jamaican sugar cane 
harvesters in Florida, with a clip about Mexican 
migrant farm workers. What is key is that the mat- 
erial be powerful and show the approach you'll 
use in your project. 

The Budget 

It is critical that all the elements of your pro- 
posal seem to describe the same project. Accord- 
ing to Kevin Duggan of the FIVF Donor Advised 
Fund, "With all the proposals that come across the 
transom, the ones that get weeded out are often 
those where the different parts don't seem to 



14 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



Don't try to wow 
funders with fancy 
filmmaking jargon 
when simpler words 
will do. 



match." Many good proposals falter when the 
budget is inconsistent with the narrative, he says. 
Take the time to make your budget as strong as the 
rest of your proposal, and make sure it looks like 
it came from the same project. 

If your proposal says you'll be travelling to 
archives in Rio, be sure to put airfare and travel 
expenses to Brazil in your budget. When going for 
humanities funding, be sure to adequately com- 
pensate your scholars. If the success of your film 
hinges on the participation of a particular actor or 
cinematographer, include the person's name and 
rate in the budget. Be sure to prepare a budget and 
time-frame that can actually be met. 

Always include a convincing fundraising plan. 
Funders want to know that you are a good risk; 
you must demonstrate that you can get the rest of 
the money for your film or video. Include in your 
funding plan only those funders that might plau- 
sibly support your project, and try to keep your 
funding needs as low as possible. No one wants 
their grant to be a drop in the ocean. By the same 
token, if your bottom line is unusually low, you 
should explain how that will be achieved. 

Finally, be clear and explain your terminology, 
especially when approaching a funder that doesn't 
usually fund media. Don't try to wow funders 
with fancy filmmaking jargon when simpler words 
will do. 

There are a number of very good reference 
books on budgets. Among those that producers 
find particularly helpful are: Movie Production & 
Budget Forms, by Ralph Singleton (Beverly Hills: 
Lone Eagle Publishing, 1985); Singleton's Film 
Scheduling and companion book Film Schedul- 
ing/Film Budgeting Workbook, (Beverly Hills: 
Lone Eagle Publishing, 1989); and Film & Video 
Budgets by Michael Wiese (Studio City, CA: 
Michael Wiese Productions, 1990). 

Finding Funders 

With government funding scarce, foundations 
that give to film and video are besieged with 
applications from independents. Try to find cre- 
ative alternatives to the most frequently approached 
sources. Ask your friends and families for contri- 
butions. Fundraise at parties and on public trans- 
portation. One filmmaker I know recently got a 
contribution from a passenger who sat next to her 
on a city bus. Corporations, churches, unions, and 
community organizations sometimes can be per- 
suaded to give if your subject is near and dear to 



them, even if they've never given to a film or 
video production before. 

Still, there is money to be gotten from founda- 
tions. The best way I know to locate potential 
funders is in the end credits of films or videos 
similar to yours. When you finish your produc- 
tion, be assured that others will read your credits 
and approach your funders. Also, find out about 
funders that support the kind of work done by the 
subjects of your film or tape. For example, if 
you're making a film about modern dance, look 
for the names of potential funders on programs at 
dance performances. 

Once you find the names of foundations, you 
can locate their addresses and phone numbers in 
The Foundation Directory, published annually by 
the Foundation Center. The Foundation Direc- 
tory, which the reference section of your library 
should have, lists all kinds of foundations, not just 
those that give to media. It is organized by state 
and has a series of indices at the end which may 
help you find your way to a particular foundation. 

The descriptions offered in The Foundation 
Directory are too brief to be of any real use; so call 
or write the foundations themselves and ask for 
copies of their application guidelines and annual 
report. You may also visit the Foundation Center 
itself, at 79 Fifth Avenue in New York City, which 
has copies of these documents on hand for thou- 
sands of foundations. It helps to be familiar with 
a foundation's priorities and giving guidelines 
before engaging in an extended conversation with 
its staff. 

Foundation staff are usually very helpful, and 
you should not apply to a foundation without 
speaking with them first. They can tell you if it's 
worth applying (potentially saving you a great 
deal of time) and can aid you in framing your 
project in terms that make sense to the foundation ' s 
review board. 

Finally, remember that fundraising, like me- 
diamaking, is a collaborative process. Share your 
materials with your friends and colleagues. Let a 
friend who writes well critique your proposal; 
have a technically oriented colleague work on 
your budget and sampler. Take heart! Lots of 
mediocre projects have been funded, so why 
shouldn't money pour into your brilliant one? 

Peter Miller is an independent producer and a 
freelance granrwriter for independent films. He 
teaches grantwriting at Film/Video Arts in New 
York City. 




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APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 15 



CHINESE MENU 

Vancouver's Cinema of the Pacific Rim 



BERENICE REYNAUD 



The Vancouv er International Film Festival, started 
10 years ago b\ Alan Franey (the festival direc- 
tor). Janine Frasier (its business manager), and 
Leonard Schein (currently programmer at the 
Montreal World Film Festival), was invented to 
bring a worldwide selection of quality films to a 
population of highly trained technicians and film 



screenings and meetings with foreign directors." 
The festival is now the third largest in budget 
and importance in North America, after Toronto 
and Montreal. This year Vancouver presented 
almost 200 features in nine diverse sections: Ga- 
las and Special Events; Cinema of the Pacific Rim 
(from Australia to Thailand): Canadian Images 
(curated by Amnon Buchbinder); the Best of 
Britain: the New Germany: Cinema of Our Time 
(from Brazil to the US to Zimbabwe): and three 
tributes/retrospectives: the films of Seijun Suzuki. 



refugees, who are investing heavily in real estate. 
There are also 50,000 Indians, 30.000 Japanese, 
and a growing Latino population, including a 
number of political refugees not allowed into the 
US. Although Franey insists that Vancouver's 
large East Asian population is not the only reason 
for the programming staff's "tremendous enthusi- 
asm" for East Asian cinema, the make-up of the 
audience certainly plays a role. 

This year the Cinema of the Pacific Rim section 
provided the most exciting and original part of the 



Nonrecognition at home 

troubles Fifth 

Generation filmmakers 

such as Zhang Yimou, 

whose Raise me Red 

Lantern remains banned 

in mainland China. 

Courtesy Orion Classics 




buffs. British Columbia has become the third 
largest film production center in North America 
after Los Angeles and New York, with numerous 
US and Canadian features and television series 
shot here, as well as a few Hong Kong produc- 
tions. "Many [British Columbians] are employed 
in the industry." says Franey. "and while every- 
one aspires to being a 'serious' filmmaker, very 
few ever get the opportunity. So the festival pro- 
vides an opening. Some of the films produced 
here are greatly influenced by festival events — 



the Cinema of Dreamland and the Fantastic from 
the 1930s and 1940s, and an homage to musical 
comedy screenwriters and lyricists Betty Comden 
and Adolph Green. The overall selection was put 
together by eight curators from Canada, the US. 
and Europe, each working in his/her area of exper- 
tise. 

Vancouver's population, descendent primarily 
from Northern European immigrants, is rapidly 
changing. The Pacific exposure and mellow cli- 
mate has attracted about 200.000 Hong Kong 



festival. The section was assembled by British 
critic Tony Rayns, who selected 29 features from 
mainland China, Hong Kong. Indonesia, Japan, 
the Philippines, South Korea. Taiwan, and Thai- 
land. "In 1989 Alan Franey asked me if I wanted 
to be responsible for the Asian choices of the 
festival." Rayns recalls. "I said I couldn't do Asia 
as a whole, just Pacific Asia. But this was what he 
was specifically interested in: Vancouver wants 
to define itself as a Pacific city. The other condi- 
tion that I made was that I wanted space." he 



16 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



continues. "If [Franey] had wanted 'the best of 
Asian cinema' in 1 slots, I would have refused. A 
computer could do it, and you'd show the same 
films as everybody else. I needed room to take 
some risks, to show small independent films as 
well as major features." 

Rayns also organized the first North American 
tribute to Japanese yakuza director Seijun Suzuki. 
The yakuza (or gangster) film is the Japanese 
genre film par excellence, which also means that 
it has been worked to death. Working for the 
Nikkatsu film company, Suzuki found an original 
voice in an hilarious melange of violence, re- 
pressed sexuality, and camp, taking the machismo 
"code of honor" to its logical and inane conclu- 
sions. The best example is Tokyo Drifter (1966), 
shot in munificent Cinemascope. In the climactic 
shoot-out, killers in pastel suits splattereach other's 
blood in the surrealistic creamy-white decor of a 
nightclub. "I made this film to annoy the studio," 
Suzuki confesses with a benevolent smile. Nikkat- 
su was indeed so annoyed that after his next film, 
Branded to Kill (1967) — the story of an anony- 
mous hitman sexually aroused by the smell of 
boiled rice — they fired him for making "incom- 
prehensible and unprofitable pictures." Suzuki 
had to wait 10 years to direct another film, this 
time as an independent. Most afficionados, how- 
ever, find him more original as a rebellious studio 
hack than as an auteur. 

Japan is currently experiencing a cinematic 
revival. Many films, produced independently by 
younger directors, express the raw energy of its 
contemporary pop culture and attract Western 
audiences — as demonstrated by Katsuhiro 
Otomo's animated feature Akira (1988), a huge 
success in Vancouver two years ago. In England, 
says Rayns, "distributors had not been interested 
in Japanese cinema for 20 years; since 1990, six 
have been released." Rayns' selection for 
Vancouver included Boiling Point (1990), the 
second feature by Takeshi Kitano ( who played the 
sadistic and sentimental sergeant in Oshima's 
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence). A violent, sharp, 
unsentimental variation on the yakuza theme, it 
places a shy gas station attendant in opposition to 
sadistic gangsters, one of them played with gusto 
by the director himself. Impressive in its black 
humor and rigorous visual composition, Boiling 
Point is also the first yakuza film I have seen in 
which the latent homoeroticism of the genre be- 
comes physical while remaining bracketed within 
a strict heterosexual context and a perverse code 
of honor. Hitasho Yazaki's March Comes in Like 
a Lion ( 1 990) tells a tender, playful story of "mad 
love" between a boy and girl in the isolation of a 
run-down apartment — but the boy is amnesic and 
the girl is his sister. Rokuro Mochizuki's Skinless 
Night ( 1 99 1 ) is the hilarious, semi-autobiographi- 
cal account of the efforts of a porn director to 
become an auteur. Shunigi Nagasaki's Stranger 
(1991) features a female cab driver who over- 
comes her troubled past and emotional problems 
to fight back against an anonymous stalker. 



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Stranger's lack of theatrical distribution in 
Japan raises the issue of the viability of Japan's 
incipient independent movement. Nagasaki's pre- 
\ ious feature. The Enchantment ( 1 989 ), won prizes 
at international festivals but failed at the domestic 
box office. So Stranger was shot in 1 6mm directly 
for the video market, in which it enjoyed a modest 
but significant success. Many independents may 
choose this paradoxical way of making films. 

Nonrecognition at home also troubles main- 
land China's Fifth Generation filmmakers, the 
first group of students to graduate from the Beijing 
Film Academy since it reopened after the Cultural 
Revolution. The phrase "Fifth Generation" was 
actually coined by Western critics. The first gen- 
eration of Chinese filmmakers would be that of 
the 1 930s (silent cinema of the Shanghai studios); 
the second, that of the forties (militant, opposi- 
tional cinema produced by left-wing directors in 
the capitalistic Republic of China); the third, that 
of the beginning of the socialist regime (to con- 
struct the revolution); the fourth, that during the 
Cultural Revolution in the sixties (revolutionary 
operas, etc.); and the fifth marking the end of the 
Cultural Revolution. Younger filmmakers are 
currently trying to define themselves as the "sixth 
generation." 

Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth (1984), which put 
Chinese cinema back on the international map, 
was virtually ignored by local critics until it was 
discovered at the Hong Kong Film Festival. Chen 
now divides his time between China and the US, 
and his latest film. Life on a String (1991), was 
entirely produced with European and Japanese 
money. (It was shown at the New York Film 
Festival and released by Kino International . ) Zhang 
Yimou's Ju Don (1990), produced by a Japanese 
company, is still banned in China, as is his latest 
film. Raise the Red Lantern ( 1 99 1 ), produced by 
the Hong Kong branch of a Taiwanese company 
(Taiwan and the People's Republic have no offi- 
cial contacts) and distributed by Orion Classics. 
And Tian Zhuangzhuang. the most sensitive and 
visually brilliant of the Fifth Generation directors, 
accepted a commission from a Hong Kong studio 
to direct a costume drama after directing several 
domestic box office failures (including his land- 
mark 1 986 film The Horse Thief). In Li Lianying, 
the Imperial Eunuch ( 1990). Tian invested China's 
better known historical melodrama (the political 
career of the scheming Empress Dowager Cixi) 
with an incisive, compassionate, bittersweet re- 
flection on the seduction and horror of power. The 
plot revolves around Cixi's main confidant, the 
Chief Eunuch, a man of humble birth who had to 
undergo castration and endless humiliations to 
play the game of power in the Forbidden City. It 
unravels in a nonlinear way, as a series of intimate 
flashbacks that the dying Li Lianying free-associ- 
ates — a structure that may be difficult for Western 
audiences not familiar with Chinese history, but 
one which presents an exciting challenge to any- 
one interested in alternative forms of storytelling. 
The film, shown last year in New York at the 



18 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 




Asian American Film Festival and in Chinatown, 
has not been released in the US. 

Tian Zhuangzhuang, Zhang Yimou, and Chen 
Kaige were each given a first chance by veteran 
director Wu Tianming, then the head of the Xi'an 
Film Studio. Since June 1 989, Wu has lived in the 
United States, where he teaches Chinese film 
history at the University of California, Davis, but 
the last project he initiated before his departure 
from China was finally realized by He Ping. 
Unnoticed in the mainland, The Swordsman in 
Double-Flag Town (1990) was shown in Hong 
Kong theaters, where Rayns saw it. (The Beijing 
Film Bureau failed to provide a subtitled version, 
so it was presented in simultaneous translation.) 
The character of the swordsman is a cute and 
awkward kid arriving in Double-Flag Town, a 
small village lost in a spectacular desert, to get 
married. Swordsmanship being his only talent, he 
ends up in a climactic duel in the sun with a series 
of villains looking as if they had escaped from a 
Sergio Leone film. Wu Tianming (who has yet to 
see the film) acknowledged that he wanted to pay 
homage to the Westerns he admires. Unmistak- 
ably Chinese yet daringly modern, The Swords- 
man may define a fruitful and highly entertaining 
direction in Chinese cinema, embodying an aes- 
thetic dialogue between East and West. 

This dialogue is also at the heart of Wu 
Wengueng's 150-minute video documentary The 
Last Dreamers. The tape somehow reached the 
Hong Kong Film Festival and is now distributed 



China's first real Western, Swordsman 
in Double-Flag Town reads as a wry 
commentary on the American genre 

and a fresh look at Chinese folk-myth. 

Courtesy Vancouver International Film Festival 



by Hong Kong publicist/filmmaker Shu Kei. In 
China, access to video equipment is rare, and there 
is no real documentary school. In his tape, Wu 
wages a fascinating struggle against a form he 
doesn't quite master. He takes his camera into 
Beijing's dark alleys and small apartments, where 
a few runaway artists — his friends — are trying to 
survive "outside the system." After Tiananmen 
Square (carefully elided in the montage), contra- 
dictions and tensions climax. A young woman has 
a psychotic episode at the opening of her exhibi- 
tion. Most protagonists find a foreign spouse and 
relocate abroad. Finding a personal, still hesitant 
style of cinema verite, Wu paints the moving 
portrait of a "lost generation." 

The Days of Being Wild ( 1 990 ) may be the most 



A slow-burn thriller, Takeshi Kitano's 
Boiling Point physicalizes the latent 
homoeroticism of the yakuza genre. 

Courtesy Vancouver International Film Festival 



extraordinary "product" of the Hong Kong indus- 
try. Wong Kar-Wai's lost generation is that of the 
sixties, but his approach is intimate, elusive, po- 
etic. The film resulted mostly from a misunder- 
standing between the director and his producer, 
who expected an action film. Days... was an 
unmitigated commercial disaster in Hong Kong, 
but is admired on the international festival cir- 
cuit — another irony. The film dwells on the sullen 
rebellion of a small-time hustler, his aborted ro- 
mances with two women, his half-hearted attempt 
to find his real mother in the Philippines. A subtle 
existential malaise is played out through mis- 
matched and missed encounters, moments of fleet- 
ing tenderness, unrequited passion, a romantic 
incapacity to live — all filmed in a glaucous, sen- 
sual, subdued atmosphere. In his first film. As 
Tears Go By ( 1 988), Wong skillfully parodied the 
buddy-gangster genre dear to Hong Kong 
filmgoers. Here, he posits himself as an heir to the 
French New Wave and the European art cinema. 
It remains to be seen if such a position is tenable — 
before 1997 drops yet another curtain. 

Berenice Reynaud is the New York correspondent 
/orCahiers du cinema, and has published articles 
on Asian cinema for Liberation, Sight and Sound, 
Screen, the New York Times, and the Village 
Voice. 




APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 19 



FIELD REPORTS 



LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX 

New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival 



CATHERINE SAALFIELD 



The persistent right-wing backlash against queer 
art has focused almost exclusively on sexually 
explicit or suggestive representations, particu- 
lari) in photographs, films, videos, and perfor- 
mances. From Marlon Riggs to Holly Hughes to 
Robert Mapplethorpe. lesbian and gay artists have 
lost federal (and private) funding and exhibition 
venues due to the homoeroticism of their work. 
The National Endowment for the Arts has been 
called upon to apply "general standards of de- 
cency" in assessing grantees work, and local PBS 
stations have eschewed queer work based on an 
abstract notion of community values. Ironically, 
excerpts and reproductions of this "obscene" art 
are broadly disseminated by the American Family 
Association and the Christian Coalition to vast 
mailing lists in the name of what should be cen- 
sored. This kind of \ isibility not only skews and 
stigmatizes such work from the start, but it also 
thw arts the self-determination of lesbian and gay 
identity in a violently homophobic world. 

With the annual New York Lesbian and Gav 



Experimental Film Festival, now in its Fifth year, 
we have a distinct forum in which to experience 
and analyze images made by and about gay men 
and lesbians. The festival's cofounders, writer 
Sarah Schulman and filmmaker Jim Hubbard, 
demonstrate a studied and historically context- 
ualized approach to avant-garde film and video. 
Their programming consistently offers a variety 
of possible answers to such basic questions as: 
What makes something experimental? What makes 
it lesbian or gay? 

One of the most exciting films in this year's 
festival, held in September, was Barbara Rubin's 
Christmas on Earth. Created in 1964, when the 
filmmaker was merely 17. the film is a half-hour 
examination of the sexual body. Luscious and 
unpretentious, the piece uses various film pro- 
cesses — double projection, bi-packing. colored 
filters. The images are combined with an AM 
radio soundtrack, the station randomly selected 
by the exhibitors, as per Rubin's intentions. A 
painted belly and breasts create a face, at once 
responsive and oblivious to the superimposed 
image of two polymorphous gay boys having sex. 
An enormous clit lurks behind, the elegantly ab- 
stract fusing with the quirky home movie. For the 




finale, everyone gathers, waving their hats to the 
camera, while the radio at this screening was 
coincidentally blaring "Ain't Nobody's Business 
if I Do." Although Christmas on Earth was di- 
rected by a straight woman, her sensual and 
nonpornographic understanding of the gendered 
body is astonishing in comparison to much of the 
more rote and belabored material emerging today. 

This year's program displayed a shift in sensi- 
bility about representing sex. For the first time in 
the festival's history there were fewer works by 
men than women. Also, the films and tapes by 
men contained virtually no explicit material, in 
contrast to previous years. The women, on the 
other hand, brought a body of work that demon- 
strated a new eagerness to put lesbian sex on 
screen. A dyke critic might applaud the refreshing 
change were it not for the obvious and dispropor- 
tionate influence of AIDS on gay men and the 
content of their work. 

This year's batch of sexually explicit lesbian 
films traced the recent tradition of the (homo) cunt 
on screen and flew in the face of biologically 
determined lesbianism. Sex(uality) and arousal, 
although not consciously chosen, are the results of 
historically circumscribed social motivations and 
can be analyzed accordingly. Alice Anne Parker's 
Near the Big Chakra (1972) silently parades a 
gynecologist ' s-eye view of the clitoris — "a mouth, 
a map. an animal, a tree." according to the pro- 
gram notes. This ultimately rather boring and 
entirely white sequence of close-up clits amus- 
ingly calls to mind the nineteenth-century photo- 
graphic studies of lesbian genitalia. But there's a 
twist: the evidence here was gathered and pre- 
sented for pleasure, not spurious scientific deter- 
minations. 

More dynamic and thoroughly modern was 
We're Talking Vulva, a public service announce- 
ment from the Canadian National Film Board 
series Five Feminist Minutes. The spot features a 
female rapper in high tops, shades, and cloaked in 



Voices from the Front chronicles ACT 
UP's four-year history, from its early 
People with Aids empowerment 
activities to the mobilization for a 
nationalized health care system. 

Courtesy Testing the Limits 



20 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



a five-foot vulva costume. She breaks it down — 
Girl Talk 101 — on the health care, functions, and 
maintenance of this precious part. A more ambi- 
tious complement was Ela Troyano and Tessa 
Hughes-Freeland's Stardust, which asks, "When 
you see a beautiful woman masturbating, do you 
objectify or identify?" Juxtaposing self-conscious 
full-body shots of the seductive and playful 
Troyano with suggestive close-ups of her body in 
action, the double-projection pleasures the exhi- 
bitionist and voyeur alike and manages to spurn 
facile distinctions between the two. 

The roles of viewer and viewed were further 
complicated by the festival's inclusion of video 
and its often intimate reflections. Although last 
year some privileged tapes (transferred to film) 
did appear, this time four of the festival's 49 
works both originated and were exhibited on 
video. This long-awaited acknowledgement was 
important, not only because it challenged the 
prejudices of film and video separatists, but also 
because it helped address the dwindling festival 
circuit for video (think of the underfunded AFI 
Video Festival). 

Cecilia Dougherty's pixelvision epic Coal 
Miner's Granddaughter, shot primarily on a 
Fisher-Price camera, audaciously tests the limits 
of the medium. At the beginning, the director's 
autobiographical character Jane declares, "This is 
my fucking life" — the underside of shoofly pie. 
With high-contrast, grainy shots, sharply angled 
cut-aways, and a combination of cinema verite 
and improvisation, the video plumbs the scorch- 
ing depths of family and sexuality. Although the 
relationship between illness and masochism could 
be more rigorously explored, an S/M play scene 
blends right in with the domestic havoc which 
propels Jane from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to the 
more promising ramble of San Francisco. 

The flower power, anti-Vietnam war affec- 
tions found in Coal Miner' s Granddaughter were 
curiously echoed in a number of anti-Gulf War 
films. That only one of six thematically pro- 
grammed works, Carl Michael George 's The Star- 
Spangled Basher, manages to integrate a healthy 
queer agenda with an anti-imperialistic stance is 
both striking and disappointing. The others inter- 
cut missile formations with lefty protests or sim- 
ply captured civilian dyke antics without any 
comment on the politics of war. George employs 
the image of a closeted African- American lesbian 
patriotically crooning the Star Spangled Banner 
before a frenetic Superbowl crowd. The film 
probes how and why our lemming-type society 
drastically twists allegiances and identities to force- 
feed national solidarity. A filmmaker of Arabic 
decent, George models a smart critique without 
exploiting any easy oppositions of "us" versus 
"them." Although the dykes and fags interviewed 
are disembodied, usually unidentified, voices, 
they join with a reprise of beaming faces and 
bombs bursting in air to elaborate the chaos of 
complicity. 

The most pointed and articulate anti-imperial- 




Su Friedrich's First 
Comes Love combines 
infatuation and 
disdain in its 
depiction of the 
institution of 
marriage. 

Courtesy filmmaker 



ist statement was embedded in Jennifer Mont- 
gomery's still unfocused but promising /, a Lamb. 
This super 8 work-in-progress takes Silence of the 
Lambs as its springboard and features women as 
activists, artists, and animals who demonstrate 
myriad forms of resistance to the passive, wooly 
icon of the barnyard lamb. "This is making me 
sad," says one artist as she skins a deer leg, "but 
it's dignifying a death. ..and repudiating our 
culture's definition of waste." As she tenderly 
fingers the animal remnants, explaining how to 
make sinew into glue, she continues, "Dismem- 
berment is melancholy once you get past the 
violence. Usually you only think about the vio- 
lence." Unless the violence is bigger than one life. 
Another character responds with a story about her 
dinner guest on the eve of war. A long-term AIDS 
survivor, he acknowledged. "I always thought I 
would die of AIDS. Now I think I might die more 
collectively." She recalls, "I thought, 'This is 
what it is like to be living in America tonight.'" 

Such connections have not been lost on activ- 
ists who battle the wars at home. "Fight AIDS, not 
Arabs" was the chant heard round the world when 
ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) 
interrupted Dan Rather' s newscast during the 
Gulf War. This action, together with almost ev- 
erything else ACT UP has done in the last four 
years, was included in Testing the Limits' new 
feature-length video Voices from the Front. The 
video chronicles the original People with AIDS 
empowerment movement, then moves to the 
group's early emphasis on treatment and research, 
and finishes with the mobilization for a national- 
ized health care system. While Voices, which 
targets a non-activist audience, heroically pro- 
vides a record of a radical organization's process 
and success, the videomakers unfortunately bury 
some of the primary inspirations for this fierce 
work. The issues of dying, mourning, and grief 
aren't directly addressed until the end, when the 
tape is dedicated in memoriam to over half of the 
interviewees. 

There were other works, however, that tackled 
the pain head-on. Phil Zwickler's final video. 



Needle Nightmare, trudges the difficult terrain of 
unruly fantasies and quiet moments after blind- 
ness has set in and death is close at hand. Zwickler's 
testament shows desire and restraint, the sounds 
and smells of life in the age of AIDS. Another 
person with AIDS speaks through Nino Rodri- 
guez's short tape Identities, although he never 
actually says anything. Examining the moments 
between speech, Identities pictures thought, prepa- 
ration, exhaling, tears, visual pleas, and confident 
communications. The third video in this program, 
Patrick Wright's Voices of Life, also challenges 
the mainstream media version of truth about AIDS. 
Deconstructing the conventions of AIDS docu- 
mentaries by blatantly scripting interviews and 
panning to gaffers and cue cards, Wright produc- 
tively shatters the prevailing belief in televised 
authenticity. 

Ultimately what is fascinating about non-tradi- 
tional forms of media is their potential to be more 
riveting and revealing than conventional formu- 
las could ever be. Su Friedrich's anthropologi- 
cally rich First Comes Love encapsulates all the 
contradictory emotions that gays and lesbians 
bring to the institution of marriage. Friedrich 
weaves together grainy, black and white images 
from four remarkably similar wedding ceremo- 
nies in a way that belies her simultaneous infatu- 
ation and repulsion, her fantasy and disdain. At 
one point, she lists the countries that prohibit 
same-sex marriage — all but Denmark. First Come 
Love is never grotesque or didactic, but opts for a 
critique through its use of pop tunes, from Janis 
Joplin's Get It While You Can to Marvin Gaye's 
Sexual Healing. And after watching the veils 
pulled back, the Carolina rice swept off the stairs, 
and the nuns returning to their domain, I am 
assured. I'd rather be defined by sex than by 
marriage. 

Catherine Saalfield, a writer and videomaker. is 
currently project coordinator for the Seeing 
through AIDS media workshops sponsored by 
Media Network and New York City's Department 
of Health. 



APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 21 



The Promise 

of Public Access 



ANDREW BLAU 



This article is third in a series on the long-term systemic changes in the 
media arts field. The series began with an overview of the state of funding 
for media arts organizations (August/September 1991 ) and continued with 
an analysis of the mounting debt and organizational dysfunction undermin- 
ing many arts organzations (January/February 1992). The following ar- 
ticle reexamines the ideals and goals of public access television after two 
decades of developments in technology and public policy. 

The Utopian vision of communicational abundance. ..begs most of the important 
questions about how communication is to be organized within the limits of time, 
interest and material resources. The "right to receive and impart information" is 
contained in many modem constitutions and in the European Convention of Human 
Rights. It is. however, a minimum position, which. ..offers little help to a world in 
which the problem is no longer a deficit of information but rather an overabundance. 

G. J. MlXGAN 1 

Access to portable video technology in no way alters [the socioeconomic power of 
television] any more than access to pen, paper or typewriter has led to a more 
participatory or democratically controlled press. 

Nicholas Garnham 2 

In THE 20 YEARS SINCE PUBLIC ACCESS TO CABLE FTRST APPEARED LN THE 
1970s, everything has changed except the rhetoric of access supporters. The 
idea of giving the public nondiscriminatory access to designated cable 
channels, together with the equipment and training to make programs, 
emerged at a time when hopes for cable TV were high. Cable, it was said, 
would regenerate local communities and increase participatory democracy. 
Groups as diverse as a Presidential Task Force, the American Civil Liberties 
Union, and the RAND Corporation all believed that cable would strengthen 
democratic institutions by enabling those who had traditionally been 
excluded from the media to speak on television. 

Twenty years later, the access community maintains the last remnants of 
that optimism. There is certainly more speech. Access channels are now 
found in approximately 2.000 communities and cablecast an estimated 
15,000 hours per week of original community programming. That is more 
than ABC, NBC, CBS. and PBS produce in a year combined. But has access 
resulted in a truly alternative media that has strengthened democratic 
institutions, or has it merely yielded alternative entertainment? 

Our experience of public access to cable over the past two decades 
suggests that access may have nothing to do with democracy — nothing, that 
is, until the people who provide and use access connect the two. We can no 
longer simply assume that access to media tools and channels is enough. We 
must actively build the link between our claims for what access can be and 
what we actually do with the resources we worked so hard to acquire. 



Coming to Terms 



If we are to build a connection between access and democracy, we must first 
22 THE INDEPENDENT 



identify what we mean by democracy and why access to communication has 
anything to do with it. Political theorist Bertram Gross suggests a starting 
point when he defines "true democracy" as "the opportunity for all persons 
to take part — directly and indirectly, both in large and small measure — in 
the decisions that affect themselves, others, and the larger communities of 
which they are a part." 3 

It takes no great leap to see the importance of free and open communi- 
cation in this. If people are to take part in the decisions affecting themselves 
and their communities, they must have information with which to make 
decisions; they must be able to share their own opinions and hear the 
opinions of others: and, especially as our culture becomes more aware of its 
diversity, people must have an understanding of the lives, cultures, prior- 
ities, and values of the people with whom they share a community. 

James Madison, who wrote the set of amendments to the US Constitution 
that became the Bill of Rights, used similar reasoning when he argued the 
importance of the rights of free speech and press. Alexander Meiklejohn. 
one of this century's preeminent First Amendment scholars, built on that 
logic when he argued that freedom of speech is "a deduction from the basic 
American agreement that public issues shall be decided by universal 
suffrage. " 4 But if we take seriously this link between the right to speak with 
and hear from others and the daily practice of democracy, then we ought to 
organize our access tools to foster a kind of participation that enables people 
to take part in the decisions affecting their community. In this sense, simply 
talking a lot means little. 

The Redemptive Promise of New 
Technologies 

The relation of cable access to democracy must also be viewed in light of 
the long, almost absurd tradition in which technologies are introduced amid 
extravagant claims that they will advance democracy or increase political 
harmony. People believed that electricity would lead to political decentrali- 
zation, for example, and that the rifle would expand and secure democracy 
since the state would no longer have a monopoly on physical violence. The 
historian of technology Lewis Mumford extensively documented "the 
hopeful notion of the machine as the favored agent of moral and political as 
well as material good" in Western culture since the eighteenth century, 
when "mechanical progress and human progress became one." 5 

Erik Barnouw. the preeminent historian of American broadcasting, 
uncovers this same strain of utopianism throughout the history of electronic 
media. In a sobering reminder, he notes that "every step in modem media 
history — telephone, photograph, motion picture, radio, television, satel- 
lite — stirred similar euphoric predictions. All were expected to usher in an 
age of enlightenment. All were seen as fulfilling the promise of democ- 
racy." 6 

The claims made in the late sixties for the democratizing power of cable 
television were particularly strong. In 1968 President Johnson's Task Force 
on Communications Policy concluded that telecommunications "can play 
a.. .fundamental role in achieving understanding and harmonizing conflict 
among modern societies dominated by diversity, mobility, and the claims 
of social justice."" The task force suggested that cable television could help 

APRIL 1992 



We should be deeply skeptical about 
any claims that access is inherently 
democratizing. 




Courtesy Arlington Community TV 

reduce the social tension and widespread alienation then prevalent, because 
it would allow those who had been denied access to mass media a means to 
express themselves. Professor Thomas Streeter, who has analyzed how the 
policy debate about cable shifted decisively between the late sixties and 
early seventies, points out how this line of reasoning came to cloud the 
thinking of many people at the time and in the years since. He notes that 
against the background provided by blue-ribbon panels such as the Presi- 
dential Task Force "a complex set of historical and economic circumstances 
was thoroughly obscured as CATV [community antenna television] was 
abstracted in discourse into a simple new technology [cable].... Because of 
that abstraction, it became possible to speak of cable not as an embodiment 
of social contradictions and dilemmas but as a solution to them." 8 

We should thus be deeply skeptical about any claims that access is 
inherently democratizing. Such claims are made through the narcotic haze 



of technological utopianism that was widespread at the time when access 
first appeared in cable franchises. Experience demonstrates that it is how 
access channels are used that spells the difference between their being a 
contribution to democracy or alternative entertainment. So how might 
access be used to develop democracy in our communities? Any answer must 
first consider the context in which access exists today and how that is quite 
different from that in which it first appeared in 1971. 

Surveying the Electronic Frontier 

In 1971 the electronic communication tools available to private citizens 
were the telephone, the telegraph, broadcast television and radio, amateur 
radio (ham or CB), and cable television. Only the telephone was widely 
available for personal communication and did not rely on special skills. 



APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 23 



// we reconceptualize access centers 
as places where we teach people 
how video can be a communications 
tool, rather than simply a television 
show, then access centers become 
the seedbed of the future. 



Since then, electronic communication has been transformed by the fax 
machine, computer/telephone linkages, the fundamental changes in the 
telephone network, cellular telephones, fiber optics, and other technology. 
We can now communicate in many new ways: conference calls, video 
conferencing, computer bulletin boards, voice mail, broadcast-fax and fax- 
newspapers, and other options that are erasing the distinction between 
traditional mass media and person-to-person telecommunications. As a 
result, access to cable no longer enjoys the privileged position of being the 
only way for individuals, community groups, and others denied access to the 
major media to electronically communicate w ith others. It is now one of 
many options. 

The Benton Foundation, for one. is encouraging wider use of such 
options by nonprofits and advocacy groups. They have issued a series of 
guidebooks that indicate how these groups can harness many of the new 
communications technologies. Two of them discuss e-mail, databases, 
computer bulletin boards. 900 numbers, and voicemail services as a means 
by which groups can exchange information, share w ork and planning, and 
involve activists and the public. These new kinds of w idely distributed 
telecommunications services are like well-targetted mass media andean be 
highly efficient means of reaching specific audiences. 

At the same time, video equipment, which access centers sought to bring 
to the public, is now relatively cheap and widely available. Camcorders put 
video recording equipment into at least 14-million hands in the US so far. 
which means that there are now more people who own their own video 
cameras than are likely to use every access center in America this year. New 
equipment such as the Video Toaster has dropped the price for postproduction 
effects, and rapid advances in consumer-grade, small-format editing equip- 
ment mean that nonprofessionals need not rely on an access center to make 
videotapes. And w ith VCRs in more US homes than have cable, there are 
means for distributing video that did not exist 20 years ago. which more and 
more groups are exploiting. 

On Hollowed Ground 

At the same time that technology has been changing, the role of communi- 
cations policy has also changed substantially. When Congress created the 
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934. it directed the 
agency to regulate broadcasting in the "public interest." The FCC and the 
courts evolved a broad framework through which communications policy 
w as linked to other social needs and interests. 

Beginning in the late seventies, the FCC's orientation began to change: 
the "public interest" was turned into "w hat interests the public." as deregu- 
lation equated sound policy w ith simple popularity. By the mid-eighties, the 
FCC chair claimed that the television w as just another appliance, "a toaster 
w ith pictures." and if you had something to say. you were free to buy a TV 
station just like anybody else. The regulatory environment in which access 
channels were created and originally supported has evaporated. 

Similarly, the First Amendment — the principle banner under which the 



access movement has marched — has been reinterpreted in recent years. 
Since the 1940s, First Amendment jurisprudence has been guided by the 
notion that the goal of the First Amendment, in the Supreme Court's words, 
is to foster "the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse 
and antagonistic sources. "^ This led to a grow ing body of legal thinking in 
the late sixties and early seventies that argued that the First Amendment 
implied a general public right of access to the media. 10 This was precisely 
the time w hen public, educational, and government (PEG) access channels 
first appeared. 

This expansive, invigorating view of the First Amendment has since been 
largely superceded. As communications law expert Monroe Price recently 
reflected in a provocative short essay, "Something is wrong, very wrong 
w ith the current debate over telecommunications policy. The First Amend- 
ment, so central to our culture, is being w heeled out not to nourish full and 
open debate, but as a decisive force in structuring the communications 
industry. *'" 

As many in the access community learned when cable operators chal- 
lenged the franchise obligations they had earlier agreed to. every entity 
connected with the communications industries now claims to be a First 
Amendment speaker. Any effort to craft sound policy by balancing compet- 
ing interests can be made to appear to be abridging someone's Constitu- 
tional rights. International media giants such as Time Inc. argued in towns 
like Erie. Pennsylvania, and Austin, Texas, that requiring their cable sys- 
tems to provide one or more public access channels abridges the corporation ' s 
First Amendment rights. Other cable operators such as Viacom, Century, 
and Nor- West have made similar claims, which often drag on for years in 
the courts. 

As a result. "The victory of Tom Paine is being corporatized." says Price, 
and "in the new First Amendment order, the real Paines of the world may 
be ill-served. The soapbox is being replaced by the mall. We may be creating 
a plastic freedom in which the logic of the First Amendment becomes the 
enemy of the realization of a multitude of speech. ...We become flooded with 
images, but poorer in public debate. " i: 

Boxed in by that new logic of the First Amendment, we can no longer 
build a communications policy that increases public opportunities to speak. 
At the same time those policies built on an earlier understanding of the First 
Amendment's goals, such as public access to cable, have come under fierce 
attack. 

Connecting the Disconnected 

If the First Amendment has been colonized by corporate giants seeking to 
enhance their economic prerogatives: if communications policy has been 
abandoned to marketplace forces: and if technology has made electronic 
communication widely available, what are the implications for public 
access? 

I believe it means returning to the fundamental question. "What do access 
centers do?" We often speak of the First Amendment "mission" of access. 
but that can sometimes blind us to the real mission. Access is a vehicle for 
speech. If the goal is to foster democracy, the point of speaking cannot 
simply be the right to talk. Upholding the First Amendment is not 



24 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



the goal; it is the foundation upon which access operations build their ef- 
forts to educate and provide people with tools to use television to meet their 
own communication needs. 

The relationship that religious groups have with the First Amendment is 
instructive. Religious groups are also protected by the First Amendment, 
which begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of 
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." While this "free 
exercise" protection is as dear to every religious institution as free speech 
protection is to every access center, the First Amendment is not the goal 
of any church or synagogue. If threatened, they will fight tenaciously to 
maintain their First Amendment rights, but they know their real goals lie 
elsewhere. Their right to pursue those goals freely is the gift of the First 
Amendment. 

In this context, education at access centers should mean more than just 
the basics of video production. When access first developed in the early 
seventies, the aim was to give people access to the equipment so that they 
could speak for themselves on television. Many believed that access to 
equipment would promote change for the better. But, with more than 14 
million camcorders in the US, some now available for as little as $600, the 
opportunity to express oneself electronically has yet to lead to widespread 
social change (even though the case of Rodney King has shown how one 
person with a camcorder can provide the raw materials to turn an entire 
nation's attention to police brutality). 

The lesson has been that getting people's hands on equipment means 
little by itself. When we think about print literacy, we assume that it takes 
1 2 years or more of education to become minimally proficient as a writer or 
reader. Yet when we offer training in electronic media at many access 
centers, we normally provide relatively limited training for video "writing," 
often little or no training in video "reading," and then set people loose to 
communicate. 

Access centers that are moving in the right direction are those that 
provide opportunities for producers to develop their communications skills — 
i.e., to become more effective communicators. They prompt viewers to 
consider and think critically about the medium; artists to push the medium; 
users of other electronic media, such as radio or computer networks, to 
interact with video-based communicators; and all community members to 
develop access in whatever manner they choose. 

If we think of access centers as places where people can make use of a 
technology for local communications needs, we will develop a far broader 
and more comprehensive definition than simply a place to make low-budget 
versions of television shows as the networks define them. Consider the 
model of the telephone. While it is clearly a sales tool, an important feature 
of the economic infrastructure, and a vehicle for information and entertain- 
ment, we have no problem recognizing its role as a personal communica- 
tions tool. Video distributed by cable ought to have a similar diversity of 
uses. Access centers are the principle areas in which the public can develop 
those possibilities and free video communication from the narrow con- 
straints of television production based on preexisting TV genres, just as 
legions of independent computer programmers developed uses for the PC 
that freed the computer from being only a tool for big business, the 
government, and the military. 




Chicago Access Network's easy-to-use mini-studio has attracted many 
nonprofit organizations. The series New Beginning Hotline provides 
substance abuse counseling and assistance to the African American 
community. 

Photo: Carolyn Glassman, courtesy Chicago Access Network TV 

But freedom from the constraints of traditional television needs to be 
joined to an active outreach and education program that stresses and 
strengthens the links between access and democracy. As an outreach matter, 
political theorist Richard Sclove argues that if technology is to strengthen 
democracy, those who deploy it must first be concerned with actively 
empowering the least empowered. By contrast, if communications technol- 
ogy facilitates upper-middle-class access to decision-making, or is simply 
"neutral" or passive and thus preserves the status quo, it is not democrati- 
cally constructive and may well be detrimental. 

The next stage to be concerned with is how access centers teach people 
to use the technology. Access centers normally educate people to become 
television producers. People are taught studio production, lighting, sound, 
postproduction, special effects, etc. There are some access centers, how- 
ever, that developed an alternative for people who don't particularly want 
to become proficient in the technology, but who nonetheless want to use the 
access channels for communication and outreach. The Chicago Access 
Corporation, for example, built a mini-studio with a fixed camera and 
lighting as well as a telephone link that enables it to be interactive. The set- 
up can be a one-person operation, with the on-camera talent controlling the 
camera with a switch built into the desk. People can be taught to use it in a 
fraction of the time it takes to learn studio or field production, and the call- 
in format meets the needs of many Chicago nonprofits. As a result, they are 
using video tools to get their messages to viewers, provide services, and 
answer the public's questions much more quickly and just as effectively as 
when they produce TV shows with crews, postproduction, etc. The technol- 
ogy is being put at the service of the groups in a way that focuses attention 
on their message and away from the medium. 

An additional component of such a program would be to reexamine 



APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 25 



what kinds of programs we choose to reward and celebrate. Access organ- 
izations from the local to the national normally give awards for the "best" 
programs in various categories. Instead, we should consider rewarding pro- 
grams that have most contributed to community communication or have had 
the deepest impact on their community in the previous year. We should 
make these our highest awards and thus indicate what we believe are the 
most highly valued uses of these tools. Such an emphasis would focus on 
social or political outcomes rather than TV products. 

Access centers should also make use of their principle advantage — their 
distribution capacity — as access to equipment becomes less unique. Ac- 
cess has developed with a strong bias that encourages people to become 
producers. Many access center guidelines and policies reflect this, and most 
of the highly visible "model" access centers emphasize it. Indeed, many 
access centers discourage the use of access channels for anything but indi- 
vidual local production by instituting rules or scheduling priorities that 
discourage the programming of work from elsewhere. Access centers seem 
to have traditionally thought of their distribution capacity as ancillary to 
their production opportunities, yet as the videotape of the police beating of 
Rodney King suggests, the media's social power lies in the ability to dis- 
tribute those images and make them available to viewers. The English 
communications scholar Nicholas Garnham emphatically concludes that 
"It is cultural distribution, not cultural production, that is the key locus of 
power.... That is why the stress upon the cultural producers. ..is so damag- 
ing." 13 As access centers consider ways to link their practice to a vision of 
democratic communications, they might seek a new balance between pro- 
duction and distribution that would revitalize the notion of the individual 
or nonprofit local cable programmer — one who chooses a program for a 
time slot from either local production or other available material. 

When we conceive of access centers living up to this potential, access 
appears way ahead of its time, not a marginal adjunct to "real TV." Access 
centers shift the balance of power from mass communications models to 
locally controlled media. They provide the possibility for and should en- 
courage new uses of video as a communications medium, which includes 
production, distribution, and exhibition. If we reconceptualize access cen- 
ters as places where we teach people how video can be a communications 
tool, rather than simply a television show, then access centers become a 
seedbed for the future when people will be able to send video to others over 
a cable network for any variety of purposes. 

In that sense, access centers are laboratories where the future of elec- 
tronic communications is being developed by tens of thousands of unpaid 
researchers. However, if access centers want to connect access to democ- 
racy, this kind of experimentation is not enough. Access centers will have 
to choose to connect the disconnected in order to bridge the most basic gap 
between access and democracy. In order for the access movement to make 
that connection, it will have to move decisively in the years ahead to focus 
on what makes an access center distinct and valuable as the tools to make 
and share video become commonplace. For, as Lewis Mumford noted, 
"Technology exists as an element in human culture and it promises well or 
ill as the social groups that exploit it promise well or ill. The machine itself 
makes no demands and holds out no promises; it is the human spirit that 
makes demands and keeps promises." 14 



Andrew Blau is staff associate for telecommunications policy at the Electronic 
Frontier Foundation. He also chairs the National Federation of Local 
Cable Programmers, the national membership group that promotes public, 
education, and governmental access nationwide. The opinions expressed in 
this article do not reflect the official positions of either organization. 



NOTES 

1 G.J. Mulgan, Communication and Control: Networks and the New Economies of 
Communication (New York: Guilford Press, 1991), 258. 

2 Nicholas Gamham, "The Myths of Video: A Disciplinary Reminder," in Capital- 
ism and Communication: Global Culture and the Economics of Information (Lon- 
don: Sage Press, 1990), 65. 

3 Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America (Boston: 
South End Press), 349. 

4 Alexander Meikljohn, Free Speech and Its Relation to Self-Government (New 
York: Harper & Brothers, 1948), 26-27. 

5 Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine: The Pentagon of Power (New York: 
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), 207, 197. 

6 Erik Barnouw. The Sponsor: Notes on a Modern Potentate (New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1978), 176. 

7 The President's Task Force on Communications Policy, Final Report, Washing- 
ton D.C.: U. S. GPO (1968), 5. 

8 Thomas Streeter, "The Cable Fable Revisited: Discourse, Policy, and the Making 
of Cable Television," Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 4 (1987), 174-200; 
emphasis in the original. 

9 Associated Press v. United States, 326 U.S. 1. 20 (1945). See also David Kairys, 
"Freedom of Speech," in The Politics of Law: A Progressive Critique (New York: 
Pantheon, 1 982), 140- 171. Kairys provides an illuminating overview of First Amend- 
ment jurisprudence which shows that this interpretation of the First Amendment 
reflects a relatively recent trend, wholly at odds with earlier practice. Importantly. 
Kairys argues that this trend grew out of citizen activism, not abstract principles. 

10 See, for example, Jerome Barron, "Access to the Press — A New First Amend- 
ment Right," in Hanard Law Review, Vol. 80 (1967), 1641; Jerome Barron, "An 
Emerging First Amendment Right of Access to the Media?" in George Washington 
Law Review, Vol. 37 ( 1 969), 487; Nicholas Johnson and Tracy Weston, "A Twentieth 
Century Soapbox: The Right to Purchase Radio and Television Time," in Virginia 
Law Review, Vol. 57 (1971), 574; and Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., Freedom of the Press 
vs. Public Access (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1976). 

1 1 Monroe E. Price, "Congress, Free Speech, and Cable Legislation: An Introduction." 
in Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1990), 226. 

12 Ibid. 

13 Gamham, Capitalism and Communication. 165. Emphasis in the original. 

14 Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. 
1934/1963), 6. 



26 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



Albertville's 

Other Olympics 



NATHALIE MAGNAN 



A steady stream of television images from the 1992 Winter Olympics was 
beamed up from Albertville, France in February. A month earlier in Albert- 
ville, another kind of Olympics was held. Les Olympiades de la Creation 
Video TV Locale — the Olympiads of Local Video and TV Creation — was 
almost as international, but did not represent quite the same world or the 
same kind of television. This four-day conference, held January 6-9, 
brought together "citizen TV makers" from all over the world. 

Although not the first such conference in France, none before has had this 
kind of international roster. There were local TV federations, producers, and 
community videomakers of every conceivable mode: alternative satellite 
networks (Deep Dish TV, US; Central Australian Aboriginal Media Asso- 
ciation), independent producers attempting to gain access to national TV 
(Video News Services, South Africa), local broadcast programming ser- 
vices (Canal Nord, France; Arrasate Telebista, Basque country, Spain; 
Varosi Televisio Kecskemet, Hungary; Chukyo TV, Japan), public access 
on cable (Offener Kanal Berlin; the National Federation of Local Cable 
Programmers, US ), tape bicycling (Centro de Trabalho Indigenista, Brazil), 
mobile diffusion units (TV Viva, Brazil), and many more. 

The olympiads' funders were an equally eclectic and international lot: 
UNESCO, Eureka Audiovisuel (a European Community initiative), various 
cultural ministries, as well as local groups such as the James Bay Cree 
Communications Society (Canada), Access Community TV (Columbus, 
Ohio), TV Sabadell (Catalonia, Spain), and Centro Internazionale Crocevia 
(Italy). 

About 200 people were present at the conference. As usual this meant that 
friends from the North were reunited and made new friends with the too-few 
media workers from the South. The North/South imbalance persisted even 
though a real effort was made by the organizers, Les Video des Pays — the 
French Federation of Local TV — to help as many southern federations as 
possible attend. The justification for this imbalance was, as always, eco- 
nomic constraints. 

The Global Village announced on the catalog cover materialized in the 
form of a direct satellite link between the Wexner Center for the Arts in 
Columbus, Ohio — the site of the tenth anniversary of the public access 
collective Paper Tiger TV — and a small movie theater in the middle of the 
Alps. What followed was a broadcast from ACTV, the local public access 
center in Columbus, of a smart tape made especially for the occasion by 
people from ACTV, the Wexner, and Paper Tiger interpreting the myths and 
realities of the New World and denouncing the race, sex, and class biases of 
North American society. This was followed by a teleconference between 
George Stoney, a founding member of the National Federation of Local 
Cable Programmers (NFLCP) who was in the Albertville theater, and 
members of the Paper Tiger collective. We (the French part) could see them, 
but they could not see us. In some ways, the structure of this link was the 
same as that governing hegemonic media politics today: the US produces 
and disseminates; we (in this case, the French) watch and listen. The only 
feedback possible was our acknowledging that we received the transmission 
loud and clear. So, while there is clearly a need to experiment with and 



APRIL 1992 



demonstrate the technological possibilities of satellite links between conti- 
nents by community TV, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to 
make those exchanges meaningful. As Joan Braderman wrote in Paper 
Tiger's guide to media activism, "The technological means alone doesn't 
guarantee anything democratic." 

The term "global village," from past Utopian media theory, wasn't totally 
rhetorical — it was an international conference, after all — but it was deemed 
inadequate. Herbert Smith from Appalshop in Kentucky noted that in a 
village you know everybody and everbody 's dog. This is not the case in the 
electronic village and may not be desirable either. Instead, certain partici- 
pants tended to privilege "networks" and "horizontal communication," 
where TV experts give ground to people who take charge of their own 
image. This corresponds to a nonhierarchical organizational structure in 
which the responsibility is diffuse rather than centralized and structured 
from the top down. 

It is from this standpoint that the worldwide organization of local TV 
producers and videomakers did not take place. They were literally out to 
lunch. Instead of congregating for the international meeting, most of the 
conference participants were networking in a restaurant on the top of the ski 
slope. In a way, this was a good sign for this antibureaucratic assembly. It 
also reflected the skepticism of those who too often have seen proposals for 
global organizations spring from the enthusiasm created by such a confer- 
ence, only to collapse within a month. 

The debates that did manage to take place in Albertville showed the real 
difficulty of finding common agendas: Was the goal to share technical 
information? to compile an international database? to have tapes circulate? 
to have more conferences? The participants were coming from very differ- 
ent uses of local TV. Where is the common ground, for instance, between 
Arrasate Telebista, whose sole purpose is to produce programs in the 
Catalan language, even if this simply means translating Dynasty, and a 
collective like Paper Tiger TV, which produces a regular cable series that 
deconstructs and critically analyzes the mass media — and includes Dynasty 
as a target? The production of "local television" doesn't always bring media 
workers to share the same preoccupations. 

An equally complicated task was to conceive a workable decentralized 
structure for these various local television producers and federations. The 
difficulty of this was clearly evident in Albertville, even though UNESCO, 
which is supporting the next conference in Norway in 1994, is potentially 
prepared to contribute support to such an organization. In short, the answers 
to the basic question of "why a worldwide organization?" didn't get con- 
vincing answers. 

However, participants did get a look at a developing, though somewhat 
problematic, model. Founded in 1990, Videazimut is a Canadian-based 
coalition of nine organizations in the field of communications: Video Tiers- 
Monde (Canada); Centro Internazionale Crocevia (Italy); Instituto para 
America Latino (Peru); F&SC Comunicacoes (Brazil); Asia Monitor Re- 
source Center (Hong Kong); Center for the Development of Instructional 
Technology (India); Video News Services (South Africa); Instituto de 
Comunica§ao Social (Mozambique); and Federation Panafricaine de 
Cineastes (Burkina Faso). The group organizes an annual media and 
democracy conference; the first world assembly will take place in Delhi in 
late 1993. The aim of Videazimut is to promote "greater access to these 

THE INDEPENDENT 27 




OLYMPIADES DE LA CREATION VIDEO TV LOCALE 
OLYMPIADS OF LOCAL VIDEO AND TV CREATION 

n - ft ju ■x u b? J3 fcf ^ a- fE & 1ft # j > ^ 

OUMPIADA DE LA CREACION VIDEO TELE LOCAL 



means [of communications] on the part of marginalized communities, 
liberty of expression in the production of images and messages, greater 
access to the means of dissemination of voices and images on the national 
and international level." 

While their rhetoric sounds good — "avoid negotiating for others," etc. — 
and some very good people are involved, the group communicated no sense 
of openness and did not encourage networking. In fact, they clearly left the 
impression of being uninterested in increasing their membership at present, 
explaining that they wanted to take the necessary time to develop networks 
on a regional level and work concretely on medium-range plans. 

The conference did leave a byproduct — its catalog — which will un- 
doubtedly be a useful networking tool. The catalog demonstrated the 
beginning of what horizontal communications could be: the participants' 
short descriptions were all simply xeroxed, unedited, resulting in a sort of 
carte de visite, supplemented by a list of the names, addresses, and telephone 
numbers for all conference participants. 

The conference 

For many people, the emphasis was more on interpersonal exchange than on 
theoretical analysis or concrete organizational planning. These olympiads 
were a show and tell, a sharing of experiences and struggles among those 
who fight for the right to communicate using television on a local level. The 
official structure was formed around panels that addressed such broad 
topics as cultural identity, the democratization of television, and TV alter- 
natives and rebels. There were also a few specific presentations, including 
that of Videazimut and France's Les Ateliers Varan, which organizes low- 
budget video production workshops for media workers in Africa. 

The best attended panel was on the democratization of television. Zoltan 
Szombathy, an independent producer from Hungary, described how a few 
television producers, working against the wishes of local government in the 
1 980s. managed to create a brand of television that grew to become the most 
significant representation of local culture. (They are now struggling to 
remain autonomous of state power.) George Stoney, representing public 
access in the US, described the principle of the First Amendment — a much- 
needed presentation for countries like France, which in theory have freedom 
of speech, but in practice maintain tight control over who can speak. This 
control is based on economic grounds, but it has possibly more to do with 
the history of state control in broadcasting. Stoney also insisted on the need 
to deprofessionalize public access — a position that runs counter to the 
thinking of many access producers in the US, but which remains true to the 
original concept. As Stoney put it, "What we must guard against is in- 
fluencing those users to strive for more and more technical mastery at the 
expense of widespread democratic use." 

28 THE INDEPENDENT 



The power and need for insider stories was demonstrated by Video News 
Services from South Africa. This mixed ethnicity coalition showed footage 
documenting how apartheid police create a climate of violence by driving 
Zulus by the truckload into black townships. While much has changed in 
today's South Africa, television is still in the hands of the apartheid power. 
The type of information that this news service produces in the townships 
with the people is routinely denied access on the national television system, 
S ABC. Only once was a Video News Services program broadcast on S ABC. 
This struggle goes on even after SABC went through a long reevaluation. 
Video News Services' mode of distribution now is through video bicycling. 

A discovery to many participants was the work done in a "difficult" 
neighborhood — i.e., urban ghetto — in Amiens, a medium-sized town in 
France. Here a small local TV station produces a show that directly connects 
the city official in charge of the housing projects and the projects' residents, 
who make their case by showing videotapes of the housing problems. The 
discussions that take place on live TV have very effective results. This 
station is barely tolerated by the municipality and is one of the few local 
TV stations able to broadcast in France. 

At the end of the panel, discussion representatives from the former USSR 
introduced themselves and made a case for the potential for independent 
production and TV networks in the Commonwealth of Independent States, 
where local TV stations are multiplying very quickly. Their presentation 
was welcomed with highly emotional applause. 

In addition to the panels was an evening of "the New Worlds," in which 
indigenous people presented their work. What became evident were the 
commonalities among media workers from the First World — the Cree of 
Canada and the Aborigines of Australia. Both share in the struggle to 
preserve their language and culture. In so doing, they also fight the 
stereotyping and sensationalism always present in the representation of 
their people by mainstream media. Here video was demonstrated to be a tool 
particularly well adapted to a culture that is mostly oral and based on 
storytelling. Following on successful experiences with radio, both tribes are 
now starting up their own TV broadcast channels. These will allow their 
self-images to be carried outside the limits of their reservations, establishing 
a two-way relationship with the outside world. What became obvious was 
the strength of the Aboriginal solidarity movement, pursuing the fight for 
their cultures on a global level. 

The competition 

One room at the conference was dedicated to the viewing of tapes selected 
to be part of a competition judged by officials from UNESCO, Canada, the 
Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and the US. The competition was orga- 
nized along such themes as eating, drinking, celebrating, dress, work, love. 
It seemed somewhat out of place and ideologically inconsistent in an event 
that should be noncompetitive. Indeed, the competition was turned into a 
joke during the closing banquet. As gigantic medals were presented on an 
"Olympic" podium that could hardly hold all the members of the winning 
federations, the rest of us were busy eating, drinking, and paying tribute to 
the competition's themes. 

Nathalie Magnan is an adjunct faculty member ofUniversite de Paris \ III 
and a freelance writer. 

APRIL 1992 



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APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 29 



IN FOCUS 



TOAST OF THE TOWN 

NewTek's Video Toaster 



BARBARA OSBORN 



Hailed as the best 

thing since sliced 

bread, just how 

good is the Toaster? 

Courtesy Newtek 



"The Video Toaster is the most hyped product in 
video history." says John Dorr, founder of the Los 
Angeles independent production facility EZTV. 
Not since the days of the portapak have indepen- 
dent producers heard such an insistent refrain: 
Make your own T\ '! Although the Toaster, a low- 
cost sv% itcher and effects device introduced late in 
1990. has its grassroots adherents. Toaster hype 
started at the top with manufacturer NewTek. 
which has dubbed it "the world's first desktop 




television studio." Since September 1991, the 
Topeka. Kansas-based company has distributed 
80.000 free demo tapes (modestly entitled Revo- 
lution) to trade show attendees and anyone else 
interested enough to call an 800 number. 

Video Toaster adherents claim that the Toaster 
is revolutionizing the economics of video produc- 
tion. Independent producers who lived through 
portapak euphoria may experience a certain cyni- 
cal resistance to the celebration, but the rhetoric 
has ignited a new generation of young producers 
intent on making their first million on a home 
video cassette, flexina their creative muscles with 



music videos or. yes. even creating their own TV 
shows. 

The Video Toaster combines eight graphics 
tools, most of them previously available only at 
expensive facility rates. It includes a switcher, a 
digital effects unit, a color processor, two frame 
buffers, a still store, a 3-D modelling and anima- 
tion program, a paint program, and a character 
generator. It was quite a bargain for its original 
price of SI. 595 (provided you already owned an 
Amiga 2000 series computer), and the Toaster has 
sold very well. Although the privately-held 
NewTek won't release figures regarding the num- 
ber of units sold, one knowledgeable source sug- 
gested that the figure might be as high as 10.000. 

Since the original Toaster release. NewTek has 
diversified its product line — and raised its prices. 
A software upgrade available to original Toaster 
users for S395 includes 50 percent more effects, 
while the new Toaster, equipped with the new 2.0 
software, lists for S2.495. Additional forthcoming 
product developments include PC- and MAC- 
compatible Toasters, which the company hopes 
will be available this spring. 

Not surprisingly, the Toaster has been of great 
interest to media arts centers. Film Video Arts 
(FVA) in New York City bought one. So did 
Boston Film Video Foundation and Los Angeles' 
EZTV. "Our clients always wanted an ADO-type 
effect," explains Dorr, but until the Toaster. EZTV 
couldn't afford one. FVA bought a Toaster to add 
to its image processing studio. "Everyone at FVA 
fell in love with it." says postproduction facilities 
manager Angie Cohn. The equipment in FVA's 
processing studio was decidedly unfriendly. The 
Video Toaster, she says, was the solution. Access 
rates at both media arts centers are relatively low. 
Without a technician. FVA charges S20 per hour. 
while EZTV adds S10 to their hourly base rate for 
editing. 

Producers Merrill Aldighieri and Joe Tripician 
have been working on the Toaster since last sum- 
mer, and they're impressed with it. For a recently 
completed promotional spot for choreographer 
Barry Martin. Aldighieri took one still frame from 
8mm footage, added clouds, colored the sky. 
added tw o-dimensional squiggles. a dancer, body 
paint, and keyed in different 3-D backgrounds. 
She finished the project in a day. Aldighieri is also 
beginning to use the Toaster as a preliminary 
design tool, a kind of computer sketchpad, ulti- 
mately transferring her w ork to the Harry, a pricey 
effects machine, for final touches. 

A less likely convert is John Sanborn. A video 



30 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 




producer known for his use of state-of-the-art 
effects, Sanborn has also joined the ranks of 
Toasterphiles. He directs productions for Nutopia, 
a joint NewTek-Todd Rundgren commercial 
postproduction facility in Sausalito. (Rundgren's 
music video Change Myself, produced last year 
with the Toaster, lent the machine legitimacy and 
gave its capabilities wide exposure.) Nutopia has 
a dozen networked Toasters. Sanborn reports that 
they work out computer graphic designs on indi- 
vidual Toaster workstations and then use the net- 
work as a kind of "rendering farm" that can do the 
number crunching 12 times as fast as a single 
machine. 

Toasterphilia has even given rise to a grass- 
roots newsletter, the Bread Box. Burbank-based 
editors Lee and Kathy Stranahan say the publica- 
tion is a forum for tips and tricks for beginning and 
advanced Toaster users. Ten-thousand copies of 
each issue are printed. 

Like most purported breakthroughs, however, 
the Toaster has drawbacks. Most users have dis- 
covered they can't just buy a Toaster. Aldighieri 
and Tripician had to upgrade their computer for 
speed and add memory. FVA's Amiga 2500 had 
to be boosted to 7 megabytes of RAM. Both 
EZTV and FVA had to buy two new time-base 
correctors (TBC), because, except for live video 
input, all video has to be fed through a TBC before 
it reaches the Toaster. 

Another common complaint is that Toaster 
effects are preset, so there's limited flexibility. 
The built-in effects, to some aesthetic tastes at 
least, are a little cheesy. NewTek is working on 
effects that can be customized, but progress so far 
is limited. Version 2.0, for instance, allows users 
to position particular effects on the screen, but 
FVA's Cohn acknowledges that the effects on 
their Grass Valley switcher still have better qual- 
ity and greater range. The Toaster's picture com- 
pression also gets low marks. The digitized image 
gets so pixelated that it's essentially unusable. 
The animation and 3-D modelling programs, when 

APRIL 1992 



The Video Toaster's LightWave 3D modelling and 
animation features put things in perspective even 
on a shoestring budget. 

Courtesy NewTek 

used without benefit of a network like Nutopia's, 
are very, very slow. Ironically, the 3-D program is 
so slow that it gets expensive to use, reports 
FVA's Cohn. Acknowledging this drawback, 
NewTek now offers various options — accelerator 
cards, larger hard drives, extra memory, etc. — 
that can speed up the rendering time considerably. 

Some of these effects problems can be solved 
with experience and ingenuity. The Bread Box's 
Lee Stranahan reports that still, rather than mov- 
ing, pictures work best for compressed, over-the- 
shouldernews graphics. He has also learned to use 
the luminance key and digital video effects in- 
stead of the animation program to build moves. 

Of course, for those producers with plum bud- 
gets, the compromises entailed in working with 
the Toaster probably aren 't worth the savings. For 
John Hession, a producer who makes concert 
films and music videos, the trade-off against rent- 
ing quality studio time doesn't pay off. Facilities 
will often throw in extras for next-to-nothing, he 
notes. "If you've got the money, use a standard 
facility for the quality and time. Stuff that works 
faster or better sometimes saves you money in the 
long run." 

But for those producers working with the ves- 
tiges of public financing, the Toaster is a welcome 
piece of equipment. To Sanborn's way of think- 
ing, the Video Toaster is a perfect, low-overhead, 
creative tool. "For what it is, it's fantastic," he 
says. For all its limitations, the Video Toaster is 
giving producers a chance to participate in the full 
range of TV language without having to pay 
through the nose. 

Barbara Osborn is an LA. -based writer on film, 
television, and technology. Her last article for 
The Independent was on the American Film 
Institute's Directing Workshop for Women. 




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THE INDEPENDENT 31 



TROY SELVARATNAM 



IN & OUT OF 
PRODUCTION 



Wh> does society readUv accept \ iolence but not 
love between men.' asks Whj Not Love? a 30- 
second public service announcement which jux- 
taposes images of socially condoned male vio- 
lence, in the form of boxing, with images of 
intimacv between two men. The spot, produced 
bv New York-based filmmaker Edgar Barens and 
composer Brian Tobbs. is part of a series of PSAs 
w Inch deals w ith homophobia and aims to accus- 
tom viewers to same-sex love. Six others, titled 
Get Used To It. put "public displays of queer- 
ness" in the spotlight. Why Not Love/Get Used To 
It: VooDoo Peep Productions. 250 East 35th St., 
Ste 4D. New York, NY 10016; (212) 685-0080. 

P.O.V. opens its season 
on June 15 with Marlon 
Riggs new documentary. 
Color Adjustment. Trac- 
ing the evolution of images 
of blacks on American tele- 
vision. Color Adjustment il- 
luminates this subject of 
crucial importance in an age 
of compulsive TV-watch- 
ing. Produced by Vivian 
Kleiman and Riggs and di- 
rected by Riggs. the video 
covers over 40 years of race 
relations through the lens 
of primetime entertainment. 
From Amos n Andy to The 
Cosby Slum. Riggs revisits 
some of the most powerful 
and far-reaching images in 
entertainment history and 
points out how America has 
been lamentably hesitant to 
approach black representa- 
tion on TV critically. The 
video is narrated by Ruby Dee and contains inter- 
view s w ith Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. David Wolper. 
Diahann Carroll, and Norman Lear. Color Adjust- 
ment: California Newsreel. 149 9th St. #420. San 
Francisco, CA 94103; (415) 621-6196: fax: (415) 
621-6522. 

Why do men box? What are the ingredients that 
make up a fighter? Is boxing the product of cul- 
tural oppression and racism? Does it help young 
men deal constructively with the anger they de- 
velop from oppression? R. Christopher Speck is 
looking for collaborators for his one-hour video 
documentary The Sweet Science: A Study of 
Discipline. Anger and Oppression, about the 
meaning of fighting — inside and outside the ring. 
The Sweet Science: R. Christopher Speck. 9 1 8 W. 
Markham Ave.. Durham. NC 27701: (919) 683- 
1051. 

In the 1970s, one out of every seven Cambodi- 
ans died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, a 
communist guerilla army: facing death and de- 



struction. 1 50.000 fled to the US. Rebuilding the 
Temple: Cambodians In America is the first 
comprehensive documentary to examine the in- 
fluence of Khmer-Buddhist culture on the refu- 
gees' adjustment to American life. Produced by 
Claudia Levin and Lawrence R. Hott, the one- 
hour film interweaves on-camera interviews with 
images of contemporary Cambodian life — such 




Slice of life from a Cambodian wedding in the 
Bronx, in Claudia Levin and Lawrence R. Hotf s 
Rebuilding the Temple. 

Photo: Leah Melnick, courtesy filmmaker 

as an ordination parade in which a novice monk 
stands in a Corvette convertible followed by a 
procession of Cambodians dressed in sarongs — 
to form a first-person commentary that links per- 
sonal stories with the larger history of Cambodia 
in the twentieth century. Rebuilding the Temple: 
Claudia Levin, (4 1 3) 584-5684. or Lawrence Hott. 
(413)268-7934. 

Combining realistic/fantastic narrative w ith the 
graphic fluidity of video. WAX or the discovery 
of television among the bees explores the land- 
scapes, psychic and physical, of continents, time, 
and characters. Director David Blair used the 
latest video technologies to create this 
phantasmagorical work of "electronic cinema." 
Jacob Maker inherits from his grandfather hives 



of Mesopotamian bees. Through his interaction 
with the bees, the boundaries that divide the past 
and the present, the synthetic and the real, cease to 
exist in Jacob's world, propelling him through a 
grotesque miasma of past and future realities 
toward the fulfillment of his destiny. WAX or the 
discovery of television among the bees: David 
Blair, Box 174, Cooper Station, New York, NY 
10276; (212) 228-1514. 

Disrupting conventional filmic and acting tech- 
niques, Cecilia Dougherty's Coal Miner's Grand- 
daughter is a semi-autobiographical, brutally re- 
alistic portrait of a woman's odyssey from her 
constraining family life in Lancaster, Pennsylva- 
nia to an impressionistic world of charged lesbian 
sexuality. This 80-minute film, shot on a Fisher 
Price camera and video, stars video artist Leslie 
Singer as Jane Dobson, the film's protagonist. 
Casting an unblinking eye on 
the incidents of family life 
that bear deeply felt emo- 
tions and on the act of lesbian 
love-making. Dougherty has 
created an intensely personal 
view of a woman's self-ful- 
fillment. Coal Miner's 
Granddaughter: Cecilia 
Dougherty, 1650 California 
St.. San Francisco, CA 
94109: (415) 931-2355. 

The Homestead Steel 
Strike of 1892 in Pennsylva- 
nia has an important place in 
American labor history. De- 
spite this, there has never 
been a comprehensive study 
of the event, partly due to the 
lack of first-hand informa- 
tion about the strike. In an- 
ticipation of the strike's hun- 
dredth anniversary, filmmak- 
ers Steffi Domike and Nicole 
Fauteux have completed 
shooting of their film The River Ran Red. an 
hour-long documentary that pieces together the 
events that led up to the strike and raises questions 
about its legacy. The film is scheduled for release 
on July 6. 1992. The River Ran Red: Nicole 
Fauteux. 5724 Northumberland St.. Pittsburgh. 
PA 15217: (412) 421-4789. 

"To write a poem after Auschwitz," said Aus- 
trian philosopher TheodorAdorno. "is barabaric." 
Inspired by contemplation of this statement, film- 
maker Shalom Gorewitz questions the possibility 
of making art in the wake of the Holocaust in his 
video Damaged Visions. Gorewitz travels to 
Sighet. Romania, a city in the Carpathian moun- 
tains where his grandparents lived and mother 
was born; a concentration camp in Poland; and 
Budapest. Hungary to collect images of the Holo- 
caust. Using specialized computer video visual- 
ization systems. Gorewitz juxtaposes archival 
footage with his recorded images, creating a unique 
and visually intricate portrait of his family's and 



32 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



a culture's devastation during WWII. Damaged 
Visions: Shalom Gorewitz, 3 1 W. 85 St. 7C, New 
York, NY 10024; (212) 724-2075. 

"Well, it's difficult to put into words," says 
director Bill Knowland of his latest film The 
Idea. On its most basic level, Knowland's 20- 
minute silent film is the simple tale of a woman 
and an egg to which she gives birth. The egg is a 
sort of cry stal ball, showing people images of their 
wishes and desires. Knowland makes extensive 
use of the latest in special effects technologies and 
gives his imagination free rein to elaborate this 
fantastical plot. The film was in postproduction 
for over a year, and every frame was optically 
altered — whole sets of mattes and countermattes 
were developed for the images that appear in the 
egg. The film has original music set to it, and its 
release prints are in 16mm. The Idea: Direct 
Images, Box 29392, Oakland, CA 94604; 
(415)769-9527. 

The poet as spokesman, social activist, teacher, 
and historian: this is the portrait Henry Ferrini 
gives of his uncle, the seminal post-modernist 
poet Vincent Ferrini, in his video Poem in Action. 
The videomaker portrays the forces that shaped 
Vincent as a writer: the Great Depression, the 
Communist Party, the poetics of place, his life as 
an immigrant's son and factory worker. Shot over 
a period of eight years on Cape Ann and in San 
Francisco, the video provides a firsthand look at 
this 77-year-old artist, known as the "last surviv- 
ing proletarian poet." Poem in Action: Ferrini 
Productions, 5 Wall St., Gloucester, MA 01930; 
(508) 281-2355; fax: (508) 283-4551. 

Weaving a tapestry of American, Japanese, 
and Jewish history and culture, Alan Berliner's 
Intimate Stranger takes as its starting point the 
life of the filmmaker's father, Joseph Cassuto, but 
eventually encompasses his rich legacy. The film 
is at once intensely personal and universally reso- 
nant. Intimate Stranger: Alan Berliner, 62 E. 87th 
St. #2A, New York, NY 10128; (212) 369-2616. 

The rise and fall of Marxism as illustrated by 
events on Long Island is the premise of Jeff 
Kahn's "red comedy," Revolution. The film, shot 
in 12 days for $100,000, tells the story of three 
hapless Marxist students who temporarily lose 
their ideals when they wrest control of a mansion 
on Long Island. Kahn wrote and directed the film, 
which stars downtown actress Kimberly Flynn. 
Revolution: David Leslie, 604 E. 9th St. #13, New 
York, NY 10009; (212) 477-6896. 

First-time director Ben Model and actor/come- 
dian/scriptwriter Luis Caballero turn Puerto Rican 
stereotypes on their heads in The Puerto Rican 
Mambo (not a musical). Using biting satire as its 
main weapon, the film deftly exposes the preju- 
dice and condescension with which less fortunate 
immigrants are treated in New York City. Model 
juxtaposes footage of Caballero's stand-up rou- 
tines with scenes of the harsh realities of Puerto 
Rican life to create an incisive portrait of an 
Hispanic-American tragedy. The Puerto Rican 
Mambo: Cabriolet Films, Inc., 34 W. 13th St., 



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Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates was bom in rural 
South Carolina in 1 907. Despite a disabling injury 
in a cotton seed gin accident at the age of 1 2. Bates 
went on to become a consummate showman and 
dancer. In 1951 he opened the Peg Leg Bates 
Country Club, the only resort in segregated 
America where blacks were welcome. The Danc- 
ing Man : Peg Leg Bates documents the career of 
this unlikely figure in black entertainment history. 
Documentarian Dave Davidson directed and pro- 
duced this one-hour feature, which includes long- 
lost kinescopes and archival film dating back to 
1939, interviews with personalities such as Gre- 
gory Hines. and extensive conversations with 
Bates himself. The Dancing Man: Peg Leg Bates: 
Dave Davidson. Hudson West Productions, 819 
Washington St.. Hoboken. NJ 07030; (201) 798- 
5189. 

Exploring the act of revealing that one is HIV 
positive or has AIDS, Ellen Spiro and Marina 
Alvarez" (In) Visible Women focuses on the re- 
sponses of three women with AIDS in their re- 
spective communities. The second in a series of 
videos addressing AIDS (the Fear of Disclosure 
Project, initiated by the late Phil Zwickler), 
(In)Visible Women examines how women refuse 
to remain invisible victims of the virus and defy 
notions of female complacency through art, com- 
munity education, and activism. (In)Visible 
Women: Jonathan Lee. 800 Riverside Drive. Apt. 
2E, New York, NY 10032: (212) 923-1289. 

Veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman 
continues his series about American life as ex- 
pressed through its institutions with his latest two- 
and-a-half-hour feature Aspen. Trend and tradi- 
tion intertwine in this city where pleasure seekers 
comingle with searchers for spiritual enlighten- 
ment. Wiseman focuses his camera on the dispar- 
ate eccentrics and the idle rich who make up the 
resort's population and finds in the city a micro- 
cosm of contemporary American culture: steeped 
in history, though ravaged by commercialism. 

APRIL 1992 



Shorty Jackson with you-know-who at 
the Copacabana in the 1 930s, from 
Lesley Ellen's Tender, Slender and Tall. 

Courtesy filmmaker 

consumerism, and canned culture. Aspen: Denise 
Crawford, senior publicist, Thirteen-WNET, 356 
W. 58th St., New York, NY 10019; (212) 560- 
4919. 

Barbara Hammer employs images and text to 
intertwine Western constructions of death in Vi- 
tal Signs. Hammer cuts between her interactions 
with a skeleton, clips from Resnais' Hiroshima, 
Mon Amour, text from Foucault'sB/Vr/2 of a Clinic, 
and scenes from a hospital intensive care unit to 
create a multilayered 9-minute study of humans' 
innate obsession with death. Vital Signs: Barbara 
Hammer, 55 Bethune St. #1 14G, New York, NY 
10014; (212) 645-9077. 

Shorty Jackson, Eddie Barefield, and Wesley 
Landers were semiretired veterans of the early 
days of jazz when a young trumpet player, Mike 
Lattimore, brought them together to form the 
Shorty Jackson Band, a Kansas City-style jazz 
quintet. Tender, Slender and Tall, a 28-minute 
color film by Lesley Ellen, documents the four- 
some as they make their way from day jobs to gigs, 
at home and on the road. From Harlem, night- 
clubs, and delis to funeral parlors, subways, and 
senior citizen centers, they tell stories about the 
old days, each other, their music, and their lives. 
Tender, Slender and Tall: Lesley Ellen, Terrace 
Films, 52 South 6th St., Apt. 4, Brooklyn, NY 
1121 1-5938; (718) 388-2976. 



ATTENTION 
AIVF MEMBERS 



The In and Out of Production column is a 
regular feature in The Independent, designed 
to give AIVF members an opportunity to 
keep the organization and others interested 
in independent media informed about cur- 
rent work. We profile works-in-progress as 
well as recent releases. These are not critical 
reviews, but informational descriptions. 
AIVF members are invited to submit de- 
tailed information about their latest film or 
videotape for inclusion in In and Out of 
Production. Send descriptions and black 
and white photographs to: The Independent, 
625 Broadway, 9th floor, New York, NY 
10012; attn: In and Out of Production. 



Show and Tell. 

Back issues of The Independent are 

available to professors for classroom 

distribution free of charge. 

Contact AIVF: (212) 473-3400. 




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Domestic 

( UK \GOI\ rERNATIONA] ( Mil DRFVSU1 MKKN- 
ll\ \l . Ocl 9-18, IL Deadline: June I Sponsored b> 
1 ju-h Multimedia, competitive test look-, lor outstanding 
entertainment films, tapes t v r\ programs tor children, 
« high technical aesthetic merit & content w Inch speaks 
to culturally diverse audiences, is humanistic, non- 
e\ploitati\e & nonviolent. Entries screened bv 2 ind. 
juries, one ol children, the other of filmmakers, critics, 
educators A; parents. Award cats: children's jury; best 
h\e actum animation; best feature-length live action/ 
animation; best shorts (30-60 min.; 1 0-30 min.: under 10 
mini; live action/animation; Liv L'llman Peace Prize; 
tcstiv al aw ard for intercultural understanding; audience 
pn/e No entry, fee. Formats: 35mm. 16mm: preview on 
3/4". 1/2". Contact: Facets Multimedia, IS 17 W. Fuller- 
ton Ave. .Chicago. IL 606 14; (312)281 -9075; fax: (312) 
929-5437. 

CINEQUEST, Oct. 8-1 1, CA. Now in 3rd yr. test show- 
cases ind. cinema, incl. world, US & Bay Area pre- 
mieres. Fest is "personal film festival that creates inti- 
mate & eftectiv e environment for filmmakers, distribu- 
tors, media & film buffs." Focus on maverick films. 
features & shorts. Program features Film Events as well 
as seminars on "ind. vs. Hollywood" & "technology vs. 
story." Cinequest also has special foundation to aid 
independent filmmakers in pursuit of distribution & 
offers Maverick Grants, consisting of 50% of festival 
profits for films w hose makers demonstrate sound exhi- 
bition & distribution strategy & need. Entry fee: S20. 
Formats: 35mm. 16mm: preview on 3/4". Deadline: 
Aug. 1 . Contact: Cinequest. Box 720040. San Jose. CA 
95172-0040; (408) 739-6238; fax: (408) 720-8724. 

COLLEGE FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL. May. OH. 
Animation, live action & doc. accepted for first annual 
fest. Prize money totalling over S2.000. Entrants must 
be at least 18 yrs. No entry fee. Formats: 16mm. 1/2". 
Deadline: Apr. 30. Contact: College Film & Video 
Festival. Univ. of Cincinnati Film Society. Mail Loca- 
tion #1 36. Cincinnati. OH 4522 1 ; (5 1 3 ) 556-FILM: fax: 
(513)556-3313. 

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL GAV & LESBIAN 
FILM/VIDEO FESTIVAL, July 9-19, CA. Now in 10th 
yr, fest seeks films & videos by or on gay men & lesbi- 
ans. Accepts features, shorts, docs & experimental w ork. 
No entry fee or form. Formats: 35mm. 16mm. 1/2" & 
3/4"; preview on 1/2" (incl. S5 for tape return). Dead- 
line: April 24. Submit bio. w/ contact address, ph. & 
prior film/video credits; synopsis & data (gauge, credits, 
length, format): & stills from film/video. Contact: Gay 
& Lesbian Media Coalition (GLMC). 8228 Sunset Blvd.. 
Ste 308. Los Angeles. CA 90046. 

MARGARET MEAD FILM FESTIVAL. Sept. 29-Oct. 4. 
NY. Now celebrating 16th yr, all doc/short fest. pre- 
miere venue for anthropological & ethnographic film, 
programs works on family, cultural change, ritual. Incl. 
work on real people in real situations in US society or 
cultures throughout w orld: village & city life, nonw estem 
& western cultures, indiv. portraits & films on whole 
societies. Docudramas not accepted. Participating films/ 
videos receive certificate of participation. Audiences 
number 7.000. Entry fee: S75 (TV/commercial film/ 
video): S30 (ind. film/video); S15 (student). Formats: 
35mm. 16mm: preview on 3/4". Deadline: May 8. 
Contact: Elaine Chamov. Margaret Mead Film Festival. 
American Museum of Natural History. Dept. of Educa- 
tion. Central Park West at 79th St.. New York. NY 
10024: (212) 769-5305: fax: (212) 769-5329. 




This month's festivals have been compiled 
by Kathryn Bowser, director of the FIVF 
Festival Bureau. Listings do not constitute 
an endorsement. Since some details 
change faster than we do, we recommend 
that you contact the festival for further 
information before sending prints or tapes. 
In order to improve our reliability & make 
this column more beneficial to 
independents, we encourage all film- & 
videomakers to contact the FIVF Festival 
Bureau with their personal festival 
experiences, positive & negative. 



MOLNTAINFILM. May 22-25, CO. Films dealing w/ 
mountains or mountaineering & exploration & inter- 
pretation of w ild places are eligible for competitive fest; 
submission of original video programs invited. Fest 
provides accommodations & some meals. Awards: grand 
prize for best film of fest; best mountaineering film; best 
mountain sports film; best mountain spirit film: best 
tech. climbing film: special jury award. Cats: films of 
general or historical interest shown by invitation: films 
entered in competition: works in progress: slide or other 
multimedia programs; videos: additional programs. No 
entry fee. Formats: 35mm. 16mm. 3/4". Deadline: Apr. 
30. Contact: Mountainfilm. Box 1088. 540 W. Galena 
Ave.. Telluride. CO 81435; (303) 728-4123. 

PHIL AFILM PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL FILM 
FESTIVAL. Julv 22-25. PA. Now in 15th yr. competitive 
fest programs 150-200 films & videos. Cats: feature, 
short, animation, experimental, super 8. music video, 
student. Held at Federal Reserve Bank Auditorium, 
program incl. seminars on financing (particularly for 
docs, low -budget features & shorts) & screen writing. 
Sponsored by Int'l Producers Assoc. Entry fee: S20- 
$100. Format: 35mm. 16mm. Deadline: Apr. 15. Con- 
tact: Darryle Henderson/Larry Smallwood. Philadel- 
phia Int'l Film Festival. 121 N. Broad St.. #618. Phila- 
delphia. PA 19107: (215) 977-2831: fax: (215) 977- 
2856. 

ROBERT FLAHERTY SEMINAR. Aug. 8-14. NY. Semi- 
nar for ind. doc. narrative. & experimental films & 
videos that extend Flaherty tradition of cinematic explo- 
ration. Deadline: Apr. 30. Contact: Sally Berger. RFS. 
305 W. 21 St.. New York. NY 1001 1: (212) 727-7262. 

UTAH SHORT FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL. June 15- 
20. UT. 13th annual competitive fest for ind. films & 
videos produced in US after July 1990, under 60 min. 
Cats: narrative, doc, experimental, animation, young 
media artists. Entry fee: S30 (S10 young media artists. 
18 yrs & under). Prizes incl. cash awards goods & 
services. Deadline: June 1 . Contact: Utah Film & Video 
Center. 20 South West Temple. Salt Lake City. UT 
84101: (801)534-1158. 



Foreign 

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Aug. 
15-30, Scotland. Eclectic programming featuring best 
of new int'l cinema. Showcases incl: features, work by 
new directors, animation. British premieres, docs & live 
events. 1992 sections: American Inds; Movies by & for 
Children; Panorama (int'l feature films); Young Film 
Makers; Animation; Eyes of the World (contemporary 
docs). Chaplin Award for best 1 st or 2nd feature; Michael 
Powell Award for best new British feature; Post Office 
McLaren Award for best new British animation; Young 
Film Maker of Year Award (int'l); plus Pressburger 
Award, new award for European scriptwriting. Entry 
fee: £45 (indivs); £80 (organizations). Formats: 35mm, 
16mm; preview on 3/4" (PAL). Deadline: May 22. 
Contact: Penny Thomson, director. Edinburgh Int '1 Film 
Festival. 88 Lothian Rd., Edinburgh EH3 9BZ, Scot- 
land, UK; tel: 44 31 228 4051; fax: 44 31 229 5501. 

GIJON INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL FOR 
YOL'NG PEOPLE, July. Spain. Features or shorts made 
for youth accepted in all fest sections: official (compe- 
tition & out-of-competition) & info, section (Ourlines, 
Cycles. Retros). Awards: best feature, short, director, 
actress, actor; special jury prize: youth jury prize (jury of 
200 aged 13-18). Entries must have been completed 
after Jan 1. 1991 & unawarded in other FIAPF-recog- 
nized fests. Format: 35mm; preview on 1/2" (PAL), 3/4" 
(NTSC). Beta. Deadline: Apr. 26. Contact: Festival 
Internacional de Cine de Gijon, c/o Emilio Villa, 4, 
Apartagdo de Correos 76, 3320 1 Gijon ( Asturias). Spain: 
tel: 985 343739. 

LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Au- 
gust. Switzerland. Now in 45th yr as major Swiss 
cultural/cinematic event, all-feature competitive fest 
known as "the smallest of the big festivals & the biggest 
of the small" w/ reputation for innovative programming 
& support of alternative visions from ind. directors & 
recently founded nat'l film industries. Unique open-air 
screenings in Piazza Grande, which holds 8.000. Special 
sections & out-of-competition screenings. Competition 
accepts 1st & 2nd fiction features by new directors, art 
films, low -budget films, work from Third World coun- 
tries, indies & cinema d'auteur. Must be over 60 min., 
only European premieres accepted, completed in previ- 
ous 12 mo. Educational, advertising & scientific films 
ineligible. Prizes: Gold Leopard (Grand Prix) & City of 
Locarno Grand Prize; Silver Leopard (Grand Prix of 
Jury) & 2nd Prize of City of Locarno ; honorable 
mention & technical prizes. Films should be French- 
subtitled. Fest provides 5-day hospitality to director plus 
one rep. of films in competition. More than 100 buyers 
present at fest. 50 buyers chosen among biggest US. 
European & Japanese distributors & TVs invited w/ full 
board accommodation. Fest's new director is Marco 
Muller. former hd of Pesaro & Rotterdam fests & 
member of Venice selection board for 1 1 yrs. Fest 
formats: 35mm. 16mm. Deadline: May 31. Contact: 
(East Coast) Sophie Gluck & Norman Wang. 279 Mott 
St.. #5F, New York. NY 10012; (212) 758-8535, fax: 
(212) 888-2830: (West Coast) Wendy Braitman & 
Michael Ehrenzweig. EBS Prods.. 330 Ritch St., San 
Francisco, CA 94107; (415 1 495-2327: fax: (415) 495- 
2381: (Lo-carno) Marco Muller, director. Locamo 
Internat'l Film Festival. Via della Posta 6, CH-6600 
Locamo. Switzerland; tel: 93 3 1 02 32; fax: 93 3 1 74 65 

FILMFEST MINCHEN. June. Germany. Noncompeti- 
tive fest has history of showcasing US ind. films before 
audiences of 80.000. 90-100 int'l films shown. Consid- 
ered leading meeting place for film professionals. Sec- 



36 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



tions: int'l section, perspectives (1st & 2nd works of 
young directors), ind. film section, special screenings, 
children's section, short films & docs, lectures, tributes. 
Film Exchange (for developing contacts) also held. No 
entry fee. Formats: 35mm, 16mm; preview on cassette. 
Contact: Internationale Miinchner Filmwochen GmbH, 
Kaiserstrasse 39 93, D-8000 Munich 40, Germany; tel: 
89 38 19 040; fax: 89 38 19 04 26. 

T AORMINA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, July, 
Italy. Now in 38th yr, fest features American Film Week 
w/ competitive section devoted to young American 
cinema (showcase for directors beg. careers). Cash 
awards. Formats: 35mm, 16mm. Contact: Taormina 
Int'l Film Festival, Via B. Tortolini 36, Rome 00197, 
Italy; tel: 80 60 18; fax: 80 12 79. 

VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, August, 
Italy. At 49, Venice is world's longest running fest & 
one of most prestigious. Attended by several thousand 
guests & large press contingent. Work shown in & out 
of competition. Awards: Golden Lion (best film); Grand 
Special Award; Silver Lion (best direction); Volpi Cup 
(best actor/actress); 3 Oselle (outstanding professional 
contributions). Sections: Venezia XLVII (main compe- 
tition); noncompetitive sections: VeneziaOrizzonti (info, 
section: varied works illuminating current tendencies & 
aspects of cinema); Venezia Notte (works of "an intel- 
ligently spectacular nature." entertaining but w/ style & 
content, shown at midnight); Venezia RiSguardi (retro, 
of director, current, or theme); Venezia TV (exhibition 
of works recently made for TV); Eventi Speciali (screen- 
ings of "special & unusual appeal"); Settimana 
Internazionale della Critica (International Critics' 
Week — 1st & 2nd works; run as ind. part of fest). Films 
must be subtitled in Italian. Deadline: June 30. Contact: 
La Biennale di Venezia, Mostra Internazionale d'Arte 
Cinematografica, Settore Cinema e Spettacolo Tele- 
visivo, Ca Giustinian, 1 364A San Marco, 301 24 Venice, 
Italy; tel: 520-0311/520-0228. 



FIVF THANKS 

The Foundation for Independent Video and 
Film (FIVF), the foundation affiliate of the 
Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers (AIVF), supports a variety of 
programs and services for the independent 
producer community, including publication 
of The Independent, maintenance of the 
Festival Bureau, seminars and workshops, 
an information clearinghouse, and a grant 
making program. None of this work would 
be possible without the generous support of 
the following agencies, foundations, and 
organizations: New York State Council on 
the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts, 
a federal agency; John D. and Catherine T. 
MacArthur Foundation; J. Roderick 
MacArthur Foundation; Rockefeller Foun- 
dation; Consolidated Edison Company of 
New York; Beldon Fund; Edelman Family 
Fund, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, 
and Funding Exchange. 



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Computerized Off Line 

and 
Editorial Consultation 



from pro with IS years 
On-line experience 



Bruce Follmer 

(212) 678-2560 



EDITING SALE! 

Hi-8 & %" SP State of the Art with Digital EFX 

ALL FOR JUST $ SO PER HOUR! 

FREE CONSULTATION 



• 3 machine off-line capability 
(Hi-8 & W to %") 

• TBC 

• Dissolve, A/B roll, fades & supers 

• Color camera stand for 
animation, flat art and graphics 

• Color correction 



• Strobe 

• Still frame 

• Posterize, mosaic, negative, 
chroma and luminescence key 
effects 

• Character generator 

• SP window dubs 



• Interformat dubbing 
(Hi-8, %" SP, Vi", VHS) 

• Comprehensive audio for video 

• 4-rrack audio & EO 

• Post-dub capability for 
narration or translation 

• Cassette & reel-to-reel decks 



CASTILLO VIDEO 

500 Greenwich Street, Suite 201 • New York, NY 10013 • 212-941-5800 



APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 37 



CLASSIFIEDS 



Buy ■ Rent ■ Sell 



for sale Son) BY\V so? Betacam camcorder w/out 

lens, one owner, all original accessories incl. manuals, 
flight case & Portabrace travel case. Exc condition. 
$14,000 finn. Call John (212) 529-1254. 

i tMERAS FOR SALE: Canon super S sound 8 14 XL-S. 
Canon super 8 sound 1014 XL-S. $850. Mint 
condition Velbon tripod Victory 480. S150; 16mm 
projector. S350 Negotiable. (718) 858-4898. 

H)k s\l K: 2 Rangenone 16mm magnetic dubbers; 
Arriflex 16mm S/B camera w/ DC motor & Angenieux 
zoom lens; Cinemonta 16mm 6-plale editing console; 
Otan MX 5050 2-track 1/4" recorder. Call Paul Gagne 
(800) 243-5020. e\t. 217; in CT. (203 1 226-3355. 

LEADING WORLDWIDE DISTRIBUTOR otters private 
space w/ panoramic views in bright south-midtown 
office. Conference room, video screening facilities & all 
office amenities. SI. 200 to Sl,500/mo. subject to ser- 
vices. Call 1 2 1 2 ) 686-6777. 

OFFICE SHARE AVAILABLE: Independent producer 
has desk area free in sun-filled Soho office. Incl. use of 
fax. laser printer. 3/4" & VHS screening space for small 
meetings. 24-hour access, 7 days/wk. S325/mo. Call 
(212(966-1095 or 966-4141. 

Distribution Opportunities 

BLACK DIAMOND FILMS seeks original shorts for new 
video magazine. 10-min. or less on VHS. S-VHS. hi-8 
eligible. S175/min. for selected tapes. Send tape SASE 
or incl. S4 postage, to: Black Diamond Films. 1033 SW 
Yamhill, Ste. 203, Portland. OR 97205; (503) 22 1-0603. 

SMALL DISTRIBUTOR seeks original low-budget films. 
TV series, docs. etc. for Turkish-speaking TV. Any 
genre, style. Student shorts welcome. Send VHS copy 
w/ SASE or contact: Ali Yasar Yagci. Box 5482. Balboa 
Isle, CA 92662: ph./fax: (714) 527-8049. 

VARIED DIRECTIONS INT'L. distributors of socially 
important, award-winning programs on child abuse, 
health & women's issues, seeks select films/videos. Call 
Joyce at (800) 888-5236 or write: 69 Elm Street. Camden, 
ME 04843; fax: (207) 236-4512. 

SEEKING NEW WORKS for educational mkts. Edu- 
cational Productions distributes videos in early child- 
hood, special & parent education. Linda Freeman. Edu- 
cational Prods. 7412 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy. 
Portland. OR 97225: (800) 950-4949. 

WANTED: G AVTHEMED VIDEO SHORTS for home 
video series. Comedy, drama & soft-core erotica. No 
docs. Licensing fee & modest royalty. Send 1/2" VHS & 
SASE w/ PR data to: Out & About Pictures. 7985 Santa 
Monica Blvd.. Suite 109-3 1, W. Hollywood, CA 90046. 

FOOTAGE WANTED: Ind. prod, looking to buy hum- 
orous footage — sports & other bloopers, curiosities, 
stunts, goofy items. All formats. Send written descrip- 
tion of material: Tallin Productions. Rm IE. 123 West 
93 St.. New York, NY 10025. 

Freelancers 

BETAC.AM SP field prod, w/ Sony Broadcast B VW 400 
camcorder, best & most light-sensitive camera avail. 
Complete sound, lighting, grip equip, incl. stabilizer for 
steadicam-style shots. Exp. DP & crew. Color correc- 
tion & full editing avail. (212) 529-1254. 

38 THE INDEPENDENT 



Each entry in the Classifieds column has a 
250-character limit & costs $20 per issue. 
Ads exceeding this length will be edited. 
Payment must be made at the time of 
submission. Anyone wishing to run a 
classified more than once must pay for 
each insertion & indicate the number of 
insertions on the submitted copy. Each 
classified must be typed, double-spaced 
& worded exactly as it should appear. 
Deadlines are the 8th of each month, two 
months prior to the cover date (e.g. April 
8 for the June issue). Make check or 
money order — no cash, please — payable 
to FIVF, 625 Broadway, 9th floor, New 
York, NY 10012. 



I AM A CAMERA. From hi-8 to Betacam. from super 8 
to 35mm. Call Ronny (718) 720-9383. 

REPRO-QL ALITY FILM STILLS for publicity, publica- 
tion. Negs w/ photos from 8-35mm. 20 yrs exp. making 
photos from films for MoMA Books. Whitney Museum 
& Art Forum. S25/neg. w/ 8x 10 or 2-5x7; 3-day service. 

(718)522-3521. 

RECESSION SPECIAL: Hi-8 location pkg (new CCD- 
V5000). S 1 00/day . Optional accessories. Also hi-8 con- 
trol track editing. SlO/hr. Third Wave Media. Upper 
East Side location. (212) 751-7414. 

BETACAM SP. S450/day. Cameraman w/ Ikegami 
HL79E/BVW-35SP looking for interesting short-term 
projects. Corp.. industrial, doc. Incl. tripod, mics. moni- 
tor, lighting. 5-passenger van incl. 3/4" Sony off-line 
editing suite, S15/hr. Tom (212) 279-7003. 

ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY avail, at affordable 
rates to organize production co.: handle film financing; 
prepare/negotiate options & various agreements: copy- 
right disputes or registration. Free phone consult. Gary 
Kauffman. Esq. (212) 721-1621. 

AWARD-WINNING VIDEOGRAPHER & producer/di- 
rector avail, for freelance projects ( many PBS & indust. 
credits). High-quality Sony camera & sound pkg (incl. 
wireless). Special rates for interesting projects. Julie 
Gustafson (212) 966-9578. 

JACK OF ALL TRADES for rent. I'm a prod, coordinator 
w/ doc. & industrial exp.. a sound editor & recordist w/ 
feature credits, a DP w/ an Eclair NPR pkg. Familiar w/ 
numerous off-line systems. No, I don't do windows. 
Reel avail. Doug (212) 982-9609. 

THE SCREENPLAY DOCTOR & the Movie Mechanic: 
prof, story analysts/postprod. specialists will analyze 
your screenplay or treatment & evaluate your film-in- 
progress. Major studio & ind. background. Reasonable 
rates. (212)219-9224. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY avail, for dramatic 16 



or 35mm prods of any length. Credits incl. Metropoli- 
tan. Call to see my reel. John Thomas (201 ) 783-7360. 

GERMAN ( INEMATOGRAPHER, award-winning. 
avail, in New York area. Owner of 16mm Aaton pack- 
age. Will travel. Wolfgang Held (212) 620-0029. 

PARIS IS BURNING-DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY. 

Documentaries, features, commercials, rock videos. Ask 
for my reel — you'll like what you see. Owner of super- 
s-capable Aaton pkg. Paul (212) 475-1947. 

BETACAM SP & 3/4" production pkgs, incl. Vinten tri- 
pod, monitor, full lighting & audio wireless & car. 3/4" 
editing w/Chyron & digital effects. Video duplication to 
& from 3/4" & VHS. Call Adam (212) 319-5970. 

AWARD- WINNING CAMERAMAN w/ 1 6mm ACL II & 

Betacam looking for challenging projects. Partial client 
list: ABC Sports. IBM. LIRR, Pitney Bowes. Wilder- 
ness Society. Complete crews avail., incl. sound & grip 
pkgs. Reasonable rates. Call Mike (718) 352-1287. 

HOME OR ABROAD: Prod, company w/ int'l exp. fully 
outfitted w/ compact Sony hi-8 gear/film-style audio 
ready to work in far & distant lands. Can take your 
project from preprod. through the final edit. Call Dan 
(212)628-0178. 

STEADICAM for film & video. Special rates for inde- 
pendents. Call Sergei Franklin (212) 228-4254. 

TOP FLIGHT COMPOSER w/ extensive prod, experi- 
ence, fluent in all styles, avail, for dramatic, doc., or 
commercial projects. Well-equipped Midi Studio. Call/ 
write for demo. Phil Rubin Music, 157 W. 57th Street 
#500, New York. NY 10019: (212) 956-0800. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY w/ 35mm Arriflex 
BL, Zeiss Superspeed, zoom, videotap & accessories, 
lighting/grip pkg & video editing. Feature, commercial 
& music video exp. Work as local in NYC. LA, Orlando, 
San Diego & NM. Call for reel. Blain (212) 279-0162. 

BETACAM SP location pkg w/ engineer S400/day. Incl. 
lights, mics, tripod. 3/4" SP or hi-8, S350/day. Full 
selection of wireless mics. communications & video 
transmitters. Crews w/ broadcast exp. Customized sys- 
tems. Electronic Visions (212) 691-0375. 

BETAC.AM SP & hi-8 package avail, w/ or w/out well- 
travelled documentary & network cameraman & crew. 
Ed Fabry (212) 387-9340. 

CAMERAMAN W/OWN EQUIPMENT: SR, 35BL, Beta, 
3/4", lighting, grip, van. Extensive experience from 
features to music videos. Call Tony (212) 620-0084 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY w/ 8 feature films exp. 
Credits incl. Straight Out of Brooklyn. Self-owned 35/ 
16 camera systems, lights/electrical pkg. sync-sound 
recording sys. Lowest rates! Call John Rosnell (212) 
366-5030. 

RICHARD CHISOLM. director of photography, film & 
video. Int'l doc. work. 11-yrs experience, reel avail. 
(410)467-2997. 

CUSTOM MUSIC FOR TV & RADIO: Creative com- 
poser/producer will work w/in tight budget & schedules. 
Electronic & acoustic music, DAT or analog mixdown. 
Vocalists, voiceover talent, multitrack prod, avail. Sauna 
Studio, (718)229-4864. 



Preproduction 



INDEPENDENT PRODUCER is looking for an exp- 
erienced screenwriter to write script based on synopsis 

APRIL 1992 






'he Association 
of Independent 
Video and 

ilmmakers 



v\/Y\e\\ you join the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, you're doing something for yourself — and for 
others. Membership entitles you to a wide range of benefits. 
Plus, it connects you with a national network of independent 
producers. Adding your voice helps us all. The stronger AIVF 
is, the more we can act as advocate for the interests of inde- 
pendents like yourself — inside the corridors of Washington, 
with the press, and with others who affect our livelihoods. 



7 ^etteftfo o£ *)He*H6enA6ifi 



IE INDEPENDENT 

• imbership provides you with a year's 
i bscription to The Independent. Pub- 

hed 10 times a year, the magazine is 

• rital source of information about the 
: dependent media field. Each issue 

' lps you get down to business with 
''itival listings, funding deadlines, ex- 
Mtion venues, and more. Plus, you'll 
: d thought- provoking features, 
:^erage of the field's news, and 
■*ular columns on business, techni- 
:1, and legal matters. 

HE FESTIVAL BUREAU 

! /F maintains up-to-date information 
) over 650 national and international 
i rivals, and can help you determine 
i rich are right for your film or video. 

'.nson Service 

1 /F works directly with many foreign 
i .rivals, in some cases collecting and 
lipping tapes or prints overseas, in 
lier cases serving as the U.S. host to 
' iting festival directors who come to 
: iview work. 

Ipe Library 

Ambers can house copies of their 
i rk in the ATVF tape library for 
reening by visiting festival program - 
vrs. Or make your own special 
reening arrangements with ATVF. 

JFORMATION SERVICES 

'.itribution 

r person or over the phone, ATVF can 
1 wide information about distributors 
id the kinds of films, tapes, and 
iirkets in which they specialize. 



AIVFs Member Library 

Our library houses information on dis- 
tributors, funders, and exhibitors, as 
well as sample contracts, funding ap- 
plications, budgets, and other matters. 

SEMINARS 

Our seminars explore current busi- 
ness, aesthetic, legal, and technical 
topics, giving independent producers a 
valuable forum to discuss relevant 
issues. 



BOOKS AND TAPES 

AIVF has the largest mail order catalog 
of media books and audiotaped se- 
minars in the U.S. Our list covers all 
aspects of film and video production. 
And we're constantly updating our 
titles, so independents everywhere 
have access to the latest media infor- 
mation. We also publish a growing list 
of our own titles, covering festivals, 
distribution, and foreign and domestic 
production resource guides. 

continued 



r 




AIVF 

625 Broadway 
9th floor 
New York, NY 
10012 



' 



ADVOCACY 

Whether it's freedom of expression, 
public funding levels, public TV, 
contractual agreements, cable 
legislation, or other issues that affect 
independent producers, ATVF is 
there working for you. 

INSURANCE 

Production Insurance 
A production insurance plan, tailor- 
made for ATVF members and cover- 
ing public liability, faulty film and 
tape, equipment, sets, scenery, 
props, and extra expense, is avail- 
able, as well as an errors and omis- 
sions policy with unbeatable rates. 

Group Health, Disability, and Lite 
Insurance Plans with TEIGU 

ATVF currently offers two health 
insurance policies, so you're able to 
find the one that best suits your 
needs. 

Dental Plan 

Reduced rates for dental coverage 
are available to NYC and Boston- 
area members. 



fPefa ^4. 



DEALS AND DISCOUNTS 

Service Discounts 

In all stages of production and in most 
formats, ATVF members can take ad- 
vantage of discounts on equipment 
rentals, processing, editing services, 
and other production necessities. 

National Car Rental 

National offers a 10-20 percent dis- 
count to ATVF members. Write for the 
ATVF authorization number. 

Mastercard Plan 

Credit cards through the Maryland 
Bank are available to members with a 
minimum annual income of $18,000. 
Fees are waived the first year. 

Facets Multimedia Video Rentals 

ATVF members receive discounts on 
membership and mail-order video 
rentals and sales from this Chicago- 
based video rental organization. 

MORE TO COME 

Keep watching The Independent for in- 
formation about additional benefits. 



Join ATVF today and get a one-year 
subscription to The Independent 

□ $45/individual (in U.S. & P.R.) 

□ (Add $15 for 1st class mailing) 

□ $85 /organization 

□ $60/library 

□ $25/student (enclose copy of 
student ID) 

□ $60 /foreign 

J (Add $18 for foreign air mail 
outside Canada & Mexico) 



Name 



Address 

City 

State 



Zip. 



Country _ 
Telephone 



Please send more information on: 



Enclosed is check or money order. 
Or, please bill my: □ Visa 

□ Mastercard 

ACCOUNT # 
EXPIRATION DATE 
SIGNATURE 

Charge by phone: (212) 473-3400. 



Five thousand members strong, 
the Association of Independent 
Video and Filmmakers has been 
working for independent produce 
— providing information, fighting 
for artists' rights, securing 
funding, negotiating discounts, 
and offering group insurance 
plans. Join our growing roster. 



MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES 

Individual membership 

10 issues of The Independent 

Access to all plans and discounts 

Vote and run for office on board ( 

directors 

Free Motion Picture Enterprises 

Guide 

Listing in the AJVF Membership 

Directory 

Organizational membership 

All the benefits of individual 

membership 

PLUS: Special expanded listing ir 

the ATVF Membership Directory ar 

a free copy 

Discounts on the AIVF mailing lis 

Student membership 

1 issues of The Independent 
Free MPE Guide 

Listing in the student section of 
the ATVF Membership Directory 

Library/Institutional 
membership 

All the benefits of individual 

membership 

PLUS: Special notice of upcoming 

publications 

Back issues of The Independent 



& an experienced director for a low-budget feature film. 
Call Stephanie Zerbib (212) 969-8554. 

RKA CINEMA CREATIONS will tailor a motion picture 
proposal to your film prod. Impress your investors w/ 
hard facts & figures presented in our dynamic-looking 
proposals. Also script typing & film budgeting. Call Mr. 
Ronald Armstrong (212) 603-9506. 

GRANT AND PROPOSAL WRITER. Need assistance w/ 
state, federal, corporate, or foundation fundraising pro- 
posals? Reasonable fees. Call (212) 262-3523. 



Postproduction 



BOB BRODSKY & TONI TREADWAY: Super 8 & 8mm 
film-to-video mastering w/ scene-by-scene color cor- 
rection to 1", Betacam & 3/4". By appointment only. 
Call (617) 666-3372. 

EDIT FACILITIES/REASONABLE RATES. Betacam SP, 
Grass Valley 1 10 w/ Chyron. 3/4" editmaster sys. w/ 
9000 VTRs (SMPTE). 3/4" 2 or 3 XTR microlock sys. 
w/ Eagle cont. Midtown location. Call (2 1 2) 22 1 -63 1 0. 

FOR RENT: Sony 5850 edit sys. in own home or in cozy 
Greenwich Village office w/ private bathroom, kitchen 
& garden. $700/week or negotiable. (212) 727-1732. 

3/4" OFF-LINE VIDEO sys. w/ time-code reader/genera- 
tor. Comfortable, economical, convenient downtown 
location. Call (212) 941-1695. 

DESKTOP VIDEO SYSTEMS. Complete hi-8/S-VHS 
pkgs under $5,000. Incl. Sony hi-8 w/ time code, editing 
VCR, computer & frame-accurate decision list control- 



ler sys. Install, train, support. Cliff (2 1 2) 285-1463; Box 
668, Peck Slip Sta., New York, NY 10272. 

OFF-LINE 3/4", $15/hr; w/ editor, $25/hr. Sony sys. 
5800, 5850, RM440, mixer, black generator. Very com- 
fortable, private room, great for clients. 24-hr access. 
30th & 8th. Betacam SP to 3/4" window burns. Produc- 
tion services avail. Tom (212) 279-7003. 

DAILIES IN SYNC DAILY: 16 or 35mm prepared over- 
night for coding or transfer to tape. Precision guaran- 
teed. $30/400' (1000') camera roll. Student rates & pick 
up/delivery avail. Call NY's only Downtown Dailies 
service (212) 431-9289. 

OFF-LINE in comfort & privacy w/ or w/out editor on a 
JVC hi-fi VHS sys. Can make window dub transfers 
from Betacam, hi-8, or 3/4" to hi-fi VHS. Call Dan at 
EDITIT! (212)628-0178. 

COMFORTABLE & PRIVATE VHS off-line editing 
suites. Low hourly or weekly rates. Editor avail., 24-hr 
access. Soho location. (212) 966-9578. 

OFF-LINE AT HOME: Will rent 2 Sony 5850s w/ RM440 
or RM450 edit controller & monitors. Low monthly 
rates, $650/week. Answer your own phone & cut all 
night if you like! John (212) 245-1364 or 529-1254. 

3/4" OFF-LINE EDITING w/ experienced editor, Sony 
SP, $30/hr. 3rd Avenue/33rd St. location. Call Patrick 
(212) 873-0265. Also, video conversions NTSC/PAL/ 
SECAM, $20 for 1st hr. Call Larry (212) 689-4853. 

EDIT IN NEW ENGLAND COUNTRYSIDE. Two fully 
equipped 16mm edit rooms — 6-plate Steenbeck, KEM. 
sound transfers. Office/living space in brick Victorian. 



Edit help & prod. pkg. avail. Very reasonable rates. 
GMP Films (413) 863-4754. 

TOTAL SUPER 8 SOUND film services. All S-8 prod., 

postprod., editing, sync sound, mix, multitrack, single & 
double sys. sound editing, transfers, stills, striping, etc. 
Send SASE for rate sheet or call Bill Creston, 727 6th 
Ave., New York, NY 10010; (212) 924-4893. 

16MM EDITING ROOM & OFFICE space for rent in 
suite of independents. Fully equipped w/ 6-plate Steen- 
beck & 24-hr access. All windowed & new carpet. 
Located at W. 24th St. & 7th Ave. Reasonable rates. Call 
Jeff at Film Partners (212) 714-2313. 

16MM CUTTING ROOMS: 8-plate & 6-plate fully 
equipped rooms, sound transfer facilities, 24-hr access. 
Downtown, near all subways & Canal St. Reasonable, 
negotiable rates. (212) 925-1500. 

COZY & CHEAP: 3/4" off-line editing room w/ new 
Sony 5850, 5800, RM440. $500/week for a 5-day week. 
24-hr access, midtown location. Call Jane (212) 929- 
4795 or Deborah (212) 226-2579. 

NEGATIVE MATCHING: 1 6 or 35mm. 40 years exp„ all 
work guaranteed. Will beat any competitor's price. 
Video matchback to the AVID 1 Composer. Northeast 
Negative Matchers (4 1 3) 736-2 1 77 or ( 800) 370-CUTS. 
Accept MC, AMEX &Visa. 

SUPER 8MM FILM-TO-VIDEO transfer. To 1 ". Beta, hi- 
8, 3/4", VHS. Slo-mo. freeze, toaster EFX also. Stan- 
dard 8, slides, 16mm also. Broadcast quality, low rates, 
personal service. Super 8 camera rental & music cin- 
ematography. Landy vision (914) 679-7046. 




J BETACAM SP CAMERA PACKAGE 
/$500/day includes everything and P.A. 
BETACAM SP COMPONENT EDITING 

$ 1 25/hr *CMX, Abekas DVE, Chyron 

INTERFORMAT EDITING 

$ 1 50/hr *Beta SP 1 ", Abekas DVE, Chyron 



ELECTRIC FILM (212) 925-3429 



APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 39 



Conferences ■ Seminars 

m M VIDEO \kis April workshops ind.: intra, to 
video editing, intermediate video editing; prod, man- 
agement, essentials of \ideo prod, insurance; Amiga 
Video roaster grantwriting; \ideo postprod.; audio 
postprod for video Contact: Media Training Dept I 
VA, 817 Broadway, New YoricNY 10003; (212) 673- 
9371. 

INPi 1 9: will devote time Jc space to formation of int'l 
as^v of ind. filmmakers al Baltimore convention Maj 

24-29. GoaK incl. internationalizing public support <!v; 
increasing I S access to new funding opportunities in 
Europe To help prepare draft proposal for convention, 
contact: Gideon Bachmann. Manor House Loft. Hurles . 
Maidenhead. Berkshire. England SL6 5NB; iteh 062- 
fax): 062-882-2201. 

[NTENSIVI S4 REENWMTING WORKSHOP w Ana 

Simo offered by Apparatus Productions & Film New s 
Now starts in May. Send SASE for appl. to: Fran 
Montane. 84-22 107th St.. Richmond Hill. NY 1 141 S. 

MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY ARTS 

\GENC1ES will hold marketing/fundraising workshop 
w Northern Economic Initiatives Center. Marquette. 
Apr. 10-11. Contact: MACAA. 205 G Waters Building. 
Grand Rapids. MI 49503: (616) 454-1771. 

NKH RESEARCH CONFERENCE in Media & Revolu- 
tion scheduled for Oct. 15-17 at Univ. of Kentucky. 
Small travel subsidies awarded on competitive basis. 
Contact: John D. Stempel. Patterson School of Diplo- 
macy. Univ. of Kentucky. Patterson Office Tower. Ste 
=455. Lexington. KY 40506-0027: (606) 257-4666. 

OHIO ARTS COUNCIL offers one-w k media w orkshop 
for educators. Jul. 26 - Aug. 1 . Ohio teachers & admin- 
istrators receive fellow ships to participate in w orkshops 
on film animation, doc. video, audio/radio, beg. & ad- 
vanced photography. Deadline: Ma\ 1 . Contact: Vonnie 
Sanford. Arts in Education program coordinator. Ohio 
Aits Council. 727 E. Main St.. Columbus. OH 43205- 
1796: (614) 466-2613 or- 4541. 

Also, free workshops in artistic development, mar- 
keting & touring for artists, administrators & board 
members of ethnic arts organizations. Day-long w ork- 
shops to be held in Cincinnati. Toledo. Cleveland & 
Warren. For info., contact: Barbara Bayless at above 
address & number. 

TIME-CODE POSTPRODUCTION TECHNIQUES taught 

in seminar at Trinity Square Video. Canadian nonprofit 
artist-run video access center. Apr. 13. 14. 15. Partici- 
pants learn about creating & using edit decision lists. 
auto-assembly, building synchronized multitrack sound- 
tracks & on-line &. off-line editing. Fee: S85. non- 
members: S65. members. Contact: Trinity Square Video. 
172 John St.. 4th FL. Toronto. Ontario. Canada M5T 
1X5: (416) 593-1332 

Films ■ Tapes Wanted 

AMIGA ARTISTS ON THE AIR seeks computer work for 
new public access series. Send materials on 3.5" Amiga 
formatted disks. VHS or 3/4" w/ descriptions to: Tobe 
Carey. Willow Mixed Media. Box 194. Lenox A\e.. 
Glenford. NY 12433: (914) 657-2914. 

ART MAGGOT HYSTERIA. 30-min. an party on Cen- 
tury Cable. Los Angeles, seeks work from visual artists 
in all media. Works w/ pol./social/religious subjects 
encouraged. Submit 3/4" tapes to: Jonathan X. pro- 




Norices are listed free of charge. AIVF 
members receive first priority; others are 
included as space permits. The Indepen- 
dent reserves the right to edit for length. 
Deadlines for Notices will be respected. 
These are the 8th of the month, two months 
prior to cover date (e.g., April 8 for the 
June issue). Send to: Independent Notices, 
FIVF, 625 Broadway, New York, NY 
10012. 



ducer/technical dir.. Box 3898. Hollywood. CA 90078: 
(213)665-0171. 

EILMWORKS TV seeks films under 26 min. by inds for 
wklj TV show. Fee for works. Send 3/4" tapes on 2- 
track to: Jerome Legions. Jr.. Omega Media Network. 
Box 4824. Richmond. VA 23220: (804) 353-4525. 

FORUM GALLERY seeks works (film, video, installa- 
tion i from Scandinavian artists living in US or abroad 
for exhibition. Deadline: Apr. 30. Send work sample, 
resume, reviews, articles, catalogs & other appropriate 
materials w 7 SASE to: Scandinavian Exhibition. Forum 
Gallery. 525 Falconer St. .Jamestown. NY 14701: (716) 
665-9107. 

FUND FOR INNOVATIVE TV, producer of PBS series 
The 90' s. seeks short video works (under 15 min.) w/ 
political slant for nat'l broadcast on The 90' s Election 
Specials. Works-in-progress & excerpted pieces fine. 
S 1 50/min. for accepted tapes. Send 3/4". hi-8 or VHS & 
S3 return postage to: The 90' s. 400 N. Michigan Ave., 
Ste #1608. Chicago. IU 60611: (312) 321-9321. 

JOURNAL OF AMERICAN FOLKLORE seeks works on 
folklore & trad, culture for review. Send VHS to: Bev- 
erly & Daniel Patterson. Curriculum in Folklore. 228 
Greenlaw Hall 066A. Univ. of North Carolina. Chapel 
Hill. NC 27514. 

LESBIAN & GAY COMMUNITY SERVICES CENTER 

solicits works to found Lesbian Video Data Bank, con- 
tact list of lesbians working in film & video. Contact: 
Lesbian & Gay Community Sen. ices Center. 208 W. 13 
St.. New York. NY 1001 1: (212) 620-7310. 

OPEN SCREENING: Image Atlanta invites artists work- 
ing in film, video, computer animation, multimedia & 
other media to screen their works on Apr. 2 1 . Call ahead 
to describe format. (404) 352-4225. 

PROPOSALS FOR '92-93 EXHIBITION SEASON sought 
by nonprofit gallery 1708 East Main. Installations & 
mixed media w elcome. Artists receive small honoraria. 
Send SASE for proposal form to: Patricia Gardner. 
Photo-Four Gallery . South Suburban College. 1 5800 S. 
State St.. South Holland. IL 60473. 

UNQUOTE TELEVISION, regional program of student 
film & video, seeks works (experimental, doc., anima- 



tion, performance, activist) by students. Send work & 
related literature to: Unquote TV, c/o DUTV, 33rd & 
Chestnut Sts. Philadelphia, PA 19104: (215) 895-2927. 

THE VIDEO PROJECT, nonprofit distributor of educa- 
tional films & videos, seeks outstanding new produc- 
tions on environment, war & peace, human rights & 
other global concerns. Contact: Steve Ladd, exec, dir.. 
Video Project, 5332 College Ave.. Suite 101. Oakland, 
CA 94618: (510) 655-9050. 

\\ EST INVESTIGATIONS seeks any & all of most origi- 
nal innovative work on VHS & 3/4" for West World 
Video Awards. Any length, any subject groundbreaking 
\ ideo exploration. Awards presented July 4 at Green 
Lantern Coffeehouse. New Orleans. Send copy (return- 
able upon request) & S15 entry fee to: West Investiga- 
tions. Box 850425. New Orleans. LA 70185. 

WOMEN MAKE MOVIES seeks submissions to Women 
of Color in Media Arts Database, detailed listing of 
women of color film- & videomakers in US. Database 
incl. video- & filmographies. bibliographical info. & 
biographical data. For info, or appl.. contact: Helen Lee. 
Women of Color in Media Arts Database. Women Make 
Movies, 225 Lafayette. Ste 207. New York. NY 10012: 
(21 2 1 925-0606. 

Opportunities ■ Gigs 

AMERICAN INDEPENDENT SCREENPLAY CONTEST 

is recruiting lst-round judges willing to read & evaluate 
15-20 scripts after June 1 submission deadline. Judges 
will receive honoraria. Contact: Dixon McDowell, as- 
sistant professor. Univ. of Southern Mississippi. Radio. 
Television & Film. Southern Station, Box 5141. Hat- 
tiesburg. MS, 39406-5141; (601) 266-4281. 

DEEP DISH TV NETWORK seeks program dir. Exp. in 
video prod. & curating w/ strong activist orientation 
desired. Position requires commitment to creative use of 
TV in movements for social & economic justice. Salary: 
S22-25K + benefits. Send cover letter, resume & 3 refs 
to: Program Director Search. Deep Dish TV, 339 Lafay- 
ette St.. New York. NY 10012. 

GRADUATE ASSISTANT IN FILM PRODUCTION beg. 
fall '92. 2-yr M.A. program incl. S3.000 stipend & 
tuition waiver. Req.: knowledge of Super 8 & 16mm 
prod. Write immediately to: Michael Siporin. Fine Arts 
Department. Montclair State College. Upper Montclair, 
NJ 07043. 

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS AND 
SCIENCES. NY seeks PR professionals w/ 1-yr exp. to 
volunteer time as associate members of publicity com- 
mittee. Send resume to: Aaron Shelden. chairman. PR & 
Publicity Committee. NY/NATAS. 1560 Broadway. 
New York. NY 10036. 

POSSIBLE TENURE-TRACK teaching position in film 
production beg. '92- '93 academic yr at Humboldt State 
Univ. Probable deadline: Apr. 30. Send postcard re- 
questing info to: Attn: Department Secretary. Theatre 
Arts Dept.. Humboldt State Univ.. Areata. CA 95521; 
(707) 826-5496. 

Publications 

DIRECTORY OF BUILDING & EQUIPMENT GRANTS 

designed for nonprofit organizations. Profiles grant 
sources & foundations. S49.50. Contact: Research Grant 
Guides. Box 1214. Lozahatchee. FL 33470. 



40 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



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THE INDEPENDENT 41 



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Resources ■ Funds 

ARTISTS LICENSE helps fund prod, of feature-length 

screenplays by experienced videomakers. Send screen- 
play & VHS or 3/4" to: Artists License, 1808 Q St., 
Sacramento, CA 95819-0407; (916) 446-8044. 

ARTSPACE PROJECTS has released guidelines & appls 
for new National Consulting Program. Program sub- 
sidizes consulting work for organizations & individuals 
across US. Contact: Artspace Projects, 400 1st Ave. N„ 
#5 1 8, Minneapolis, MN 5540 1 . 

BUSINESS VOLUNTEERS FOR THE ARTS, program 
which recruits, trains & places business executives as 
management consultants on pro-bono basis w/ nonprofit 
arts organizations, seeks volunteers to train as business 
consultants & accepts appls from organizations in need 
of business assistance. Contact: Arts & Business Coun- 
cil, 25 W. 45th St., Suite 707, New York, NY 10036; 
(212)819-9287. 

FILM ARTS FOUNDATION GRANTS PROGRAM 

awards 20 grants totalling S54.000 to ind. film & video- 
makers in SF Bay area. Deadline: May 8. For guidelines 
& appl., send SASE: FAF, 346 Ninth St., 2nd fl.. San 
Francisco, C A 94103. 

FULBRIGHT AWARDS: In film & television for '93-'94 
open to U.S. citizens w/ 3-yrs professional exp. in any 
area of film & TV. Recipients pursue extended profes- 
sional work in UK. Candidates encouraged to corre- 
spond w/ British counterparts; purely academic propos- 
als not appropriate. Grant: £12,000 for 6-9 mo. period. 
Deadline: Aug. 1 . Send project statement & 1 VHS tape 
of recent work w/ SASE for tape return. For appl. 
materials, call: (202) 686-7878. Questions, contact: Dr. 
Karen Adams, (202) 686-6245 or Ms. Betsy Lewis. 
(202)686-6242.2) 

Also, Scholar Program for research &/or lecturing in 
over 1 20 countries. Terms: 2 mos-full academic yr. Pro- 
fessional artists & indivs outside academe encouraged 
to apply. Deadline: Jun. 15 for Australia & S. Asia; Aug. 
1 for Africa. Asia. Europe, Latin America, the Middle 
East & Canada. Call: (202) 686-7877. 

MEDIA ALLIANCE ON-LINE PROGRAM assists artists 
& nonprofit organizations in using state-of-the-art equip- 
ment in New York State postprod. & prod, facilities at 
reduced rates. For info, contact: Media Alliance, c/o 
WNET, 356 W. 58th St, New York, NY 10019; (212) 
560-2919. 

NATIONAL BLACK PROGRAMMING CONSORTIUM 

supports research, development, scripting, prod. & post- 
prod, of TV projects on history, culture & socio-political 
realities of Africa & African diaspora. Grants range 
from$1.000-S30.000. Send 10 copies of proposal, incl. 
goal statement, description, treatment/script, expected 
participants list, personnel list, budget, samples of work, 
letters of support & description of process to ensure 
authenticity. Deadline: Apr. 30. Contact: NBPC, 929 
Harrison Ave.. Ste #104, Columbus, OH 43215: (614) 
299-5355. 

NEW YORK COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES an- 
nounces June 1 major grant deadline. Proposals must be 
submitted in 20 copies on council appl. forms. Contact: 
NY Council for the Humanities, 198 Broadway, 10 Fl., 
New York. NY 10038; (212) 233-1 131 

OHIO ARTS COUNCIL offers scholarships to high school 
seniors to pursue arts training at Ohio college or univ. 
Media artists eligible. Deadline: Apr. 15. Contact: Arts 
in Education Program at Ohio Arts Council, 727 East 
Main St.. Columbus. OH. 43205- 1 796: (6 1 4) 466-26 1 3. 



42 THE INDEPENDENT 



APRIL 1992 



PROGRAM NOTES 



AIVF MEMBERSHIP SURVEY RESULTS 



MARTHA GEVER 

AIVF Executive Director 



Last summer AIVF members were asked to par- 
ticipate in a survey to help the organization's staff 
and board of directors evaluate our programs and 
services. Almost 750 individuals (about 15% of 
the entire membership ) returned these forms, which 
we used to compile and analyze our membership 
composition and interests. Here are some of the 
results: 

Perhaps the most important statistic was ob- 
tained from the first question: Are you involved in 
media production, involved in a related industry, 
or involved in an unrelated industry? 87% checked 
the first option: The vast majority of AIVF mem- 
bers are media producers. And 1 1 % said they are 
involved in a related industry. 

Many respondents indicated that they work 
with both film and video (40%), while 24% said 
they use only film and 34% use only video to make 
their work. In terms of styles and genres, 56% said 
they make documentaries, 23% are involved in 
feature production, 22% make industrials and 
commercials, 2 1 % make television programs, 1 7% 
make experimental videos, 14% make experi- 
mental films, and 1 1 % produce live-action shorts. 
These figures add up to more than 100%, since 
many media artists work in more that one style or 
genre. 

64% said they own film or video equipment, 
and, of these, 45% own equipment valued under 
$10,000, 14% have equipment worth between 
$10,000 and $40,000, and 9% reported owning 
equipment worth over $40,000. 

Average budgets for productions ranged from 
58% under $50,000 to 3% over $1 -million. An- 
other 3% said their budgets are between $500,000 
and $1 -million, while 32% average between 
$50,000 and $500,000. 

Many of the respondents are teachers — 40- 
50% of whom teach at the college or university 
level. 43% said they support themselves exclu- 
sively by their work in media production, while 
30% indicated income from related sources. 5% 
of the respondents were students, and 21% sup- 
port themselves with work unrelated to media 
production. 

48% of those who returned the survey are 30 to 
39 years old. This represents the largest age group, 
although 24% are between 40 and 49, and 1 8% are 



in their twenties. In addition 8% are 50 to 69, and 
.5% are over 70. 

Of the respondents, 60% live in East Coast 
states, 16% on the West Coast, 10% in the Mid- 
west, 5% in the South, 4% in the Southwest, and 
only 1% in the Northwest. 2% live outside the 
U.S. 

These demographic figures regarding our mem- 
bership tell us that our membership base consists 
largely of active independent media producers 
and teachers who are in their thirties and forties 
(with a significant group in their twenties) and 
who live on the two coasts. Although these num- 
bers confirm what we have surmised from other 
indicators, they also point toward a need for 
greater outreach to younger artists and producers 
based in other areas of the country. Both initia- 
tives are underway as we undertake new member- 
ship development strategies. 

In addition to gathering information about the 
AIVF constituency, we also asked our members 
to give us their views on our existing programs 
and services. First, we asked them to rank our 
three primary areas of activity: advocacy, infor- 
mation, and services. Information was heavily 
endorsed as the most important function of AIVF, 
followed by advocacy; services ranked third. 

When asked about members' use of existing 
programs and services, the listings in The Inde- 
pendent received the highest marks — 46% — with 
Festival Bureau information ranking second — 
43% . Other services that were used in the past two 
years by over 10% of the respondents were semi- 
nars, book sales, health and disability insurance, 
and the AIVF office bulletin board. Members 
were also asked to indicate the programs they 
think would benefit from greater development; 
the most frequently cited were The Independent 
(44%), consultations on distribution (27%), health 
insurance (24%), general telephone consultations 
(22%) and seminars (22%). 

This kind of information is invaluable to the 
AIVF staff and board as we examine our role and 
activities as a national service organization for 
independent media producers. It helps us set pri- 
orities and plan future directions for the organiza- 
tion. The survey has already served as the basis for 
charting new directions, such as the outreach 
efforts mentioned above. If this summary of our 
findings provokes ideas for realizing these goals, 
please take time to put your thoughts in writing 
and send them to me at: AIVF, 625 Broadway, 9th 
floor, New York, NY 10012. 







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APRIL 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 43 



MEMORANDA 



MINUTES OF THE AIVF/FIVF 
BOARD OF DIRECTORS 
MEETING 

On Januar> 1 1. 1992, the Al\ F Board oi Direc- 
tors convened. In attendance were Dai Sil Kim- 
Gibson (chair), Robert Richter (president). Dee 
Da\iN (vice president). Lord Ding (secretary), 

Skip Blumberg. Christine Cho\ . Jim Klein. 
Lourdes Portillo. James Sehamus. Ban Weiss. 
and AIVF/FIVF staff. 

Executive director Martha Ge\er introduced 
the board to AIYF/FlVF's new stall members: 
Anne Douglass, membership/program director, 
and Mei-Ling Poon. bookkeeper, and FI\F\ new 
development consultant. Susan Kenned\ . Gever 
thenrev iewed the organization's recent activ ities: 
the latest round of awards under the Donor Ad- 
\ised Fund. FIVF's proposal submitted to the 
Mac Arthur Foundation, and the signing of a fiscal 
sponsorship agreement between FTVF and the 
International Media Resource Exchange. She re- 
ported on a preliminary meeting with NAMAC 
cochair Linda Mabalot and conference chair Mar- 
garet Caples concerning AIVF's participation in 
the next NAMAC national conference. Although 
NAMAC has not yet determined the date of the 
event, the board provisionally endorsed some 
form of cooperation. AI VF will also be participat- 
ing in Arts Wire, a new computer bulletin board 
service for arts organizations and artists, as soon 
as it is operative. 

Administrative director Kathryn Bowser re- 
ported on the progress of FIVF's next two interna- 
tional production guides. The Asian guide, edited 
by Somi Roy. has a projected completion date of 
August 1992. To update listings already gathered 
by Pearl Bowser for the African guide. James 
Schamus volunteered to take her data to the 
Rotterdam Film Festival, which many African 
producers will be attending. 

Business manager Mei-Ling Poon reported that 
much of her time has been spent reorganizing the 
existing bookkeeping system. She will present 
more complete financial information at the next 
board meeting. 

Festival bureau/information services director 
Kathryn Bowser noted the expected arrival of 
representatives from the Oberhausen and Sydney 
film festivals and that coordination of entries for 
the Creteil festival was complete. 

The Independent editor Patricia Thomson re- 
ported that the magazine is operating fully staffed. 
with a new editorial assistant now in place. Man- 
aging editor Ellen Levy noted that an eight percent 
price increase for display ads went into effect 
January 1 . Ad sales remain strong and new sstand 
sales are steadily increasing. 

Seminars/membership director Anne Douglass 
ennumerated the upcoming seminars — on festi- 
vals, legal issues, and foreign sales agents later in 
the year. 

Under old business, the Membership Commit- 
tee initiated an extended discussion of AIVF's 
health plans. It was decided that FI VF should host 

44 THE INDEPENDENT 



a seminar on health insurance for independent 
producers, bringing together representatives of 
insurance agencies, consultants, and staff of other 
professional organizations w ithexpertise in health 
plans. 

The committee also discussed the distribution 
of audiotapes of seminars and the program's fail- 
ure to break even. Ding and Schamus endorsed the 
idea that some form of documentation should 
occur. The committee agreed to bring an alternate 
proposal for seminar documentation to the next 
board meeting. 

The committee also proposed that AIVF's re- 
gional representatives receive a list of members in 
their areas and be encouraged to establish monthly 
office hours. 

The Advocacy Committee discussed three new 
projects: an advocacy video that will address 
issues of public funding and censorship and will 
be coordinated by Schamus. Davis, and Ding; an 
op-ed piece: and a phone tree, which will include 
members in key geographic areas. 

Schamus announced the committee's plan to 
establish a task force on new technologies, which 
will identify developments affecting independent 
producers, compile a bibliography on these areas, 
and convene a series of informal meetings with 
experts involved in various facets of technologi- 
cal developments and related public policy issues. 

Jim Klein announced that the National Coali- 
tion of Independent Public Broadcasting Produc- 
ers elected Gever to its board. Gever then reported 
that NCIPBP's most urgent concerns are nomi- 
nating the Independent Television Sendee (ITVS) 
board members and defining its responsibilities 
regarding other aspects of public television. 

The board voted in favor of playing a role in 
facilitating contract negotiations between ITVS 
and producers who received grants and are dissat- 
isfied with the terms of the Open Call contract. 

Under new business, the board formed a com- 
mittee to develop the FIVF board (Kim-Gibson, 
Davis. Richter. Portillo. Gever). The board unani- 
mously passed a motion to amend the FIVF by- 
laws so that FIVF board terms will be two years, 
commencing at the time of their election. 



MOVING ? 

LET US KNOW. 

IT TAKES FOUR TO SIX WEEKS 

TO PROCESS A CHANGE OF 

ADDRESS, SO PLEASE NOTIFY 

US IN ADVANCE. 



GOT A LINE ON DEVELOPING 
TECHNOLOGIES? 

A newly formed AIVF committee is collecting 
information on new technologies — fiber optics, 
digital image processing, etc. — in order to inves- 
tigate how these might affect independent pro- 
duction and distribution. If you are interested in 
participating in our research efforts, or if you have 
access to R&D labs or personnel within those 
departments, please contact Patricia Thomson at 
(212) 473-3400 or James Schamus at (212) 229- 
1046. 



HAVE YOU BEEN AUDITED 
LATELY? 

Have you gone through an IRS audit in the 
past couple of years? If you have, we want to 
hear your story. We want to run an article in 
The Independent on what' s happened to film/ 
videomakers in the wake of the recent tax 
changes. Your anonymity will be assured. 
Contact: Susan Lee. film tax accountant and 
writer, 2 Charlton St. New York, NY 10014; 
(212)633-1516. 



UPCOMING SEMINARS 

HEALTH INSURANCE FOR 
INDEPENDENTS 

Thursday, May 14th 
7-9 p.m. 721 Broadway. NYC. Rm 006 
For self-employed independent producers, the 
rising cost of health insurance is increasingly 
a source of frustration and alarm. This panel 
brings together a number of industry experts 
who will outline the various options available 
to independents and answer your questions. 

LEGAL AFFAIRS 

Thursday, June 18 

Time & place to be announced 

Attorney Wilder Knight w ; ill address a variety 

of legal issues of concern to producers. Watch 

your mailbox for details. 



AIVF ANNUAL 

MEMBERSHIP 

MEETING 

Friday, April 24 7:00-9:00 pm 

Anthology Film Archives 

32 Second Avenue, New York City 

Meet your colleagues and AIVF staff at 

our annual gathering. Hear w hat AIVF is 

planning for the coming year. Give us your 

feedback. Submit nominations for the 

AIVF/FIVF Board of Directors. 

Have a good time! 



APRIL 1992 



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The AIVF 
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on all types of festivals: small and large, 
specialized and general, domestic and 
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An important reference source which belongs 
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independent producers, distributors, festival 
directors, programmers, curators, exhibitors. 
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VOLUME 15, NUMBER 4 



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The Independent is published 10 times yearly by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. (FIVF), 
625 Broadway, 9th floor, New York, NY 10012, (212) 
473-3400, a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational 
foundation dedicated to the promotion of video and film, 
and by the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, Inc. (AIVF), the national trade association of 
independent producers and individuals involved in 
independent video and film. Subscription is included with 
membership in AIVF. Together FIVF and AIVF provide a 
broad range of educational and professional services for 
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permission and acknowledgement of the article's 
previous appearance in The Independent. ISSN 
0731-5198. The Independent is indexed in the 
Alternative Press Index. 

£ Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. 1992 

AIVF/FIVF STAFF MEMBERS: Martha Gever, executive 

director; Kathryn Bowser, administrative/festival bureau 
director; Anne Douglass, seminar/membership director; 
Mei-Ling Poon, bookkeeper; Stephanie Richardson, admin- 
istrative assistant; Anissa Rose, programs assistant. 

AIVF/FIVF BOARDS OF DIRECTORS: Eugene 
Aleinikoff, * Skip Blumberg, Charles Burnett, Christine 
Choy, Dee Davis (vice president), Loni Ding (secretary), Lisa 
Frigand,* Adrianne B. Furniss,* Martha Gever (ex officio), 
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (chair), Jim Klein, Regge Life,* Tom 
Luddy,* Lourdes Portillo, Robert Richter (president), Steve 
Savage,* James Schamus, Barton Weiss, Chuck 
Workman,* Debra Zimmerman (treasurer). 

* FIVF Board of Directors only 



2 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



CONTENTS 




mmnm 




14 




30 



COVER: The increased visibility of 
African American cinema has sparked 
interest in the predecessors of Spike 
Lee, John Singleton, Julie Dash, and 
company. One such veteran director is 
documentation William Greaves, 
whose 1 968 feature Symbiopsycho- 
taxiplasm: Take One is currently 
receiving renewed attention. At once a 
critique of cinema verite, a Cassavetian 
improvisation, and an Age of Aquarius 
time capsule, Symbhpsychotaxiplasm 
is now assuming its proper place 
among the self- reflective film 
experiments of that era. In this issue, 
Greaves discusses the film and his 
unorthodox techniques as a director. 
Photo courtesy filmmaker. 



24 FEATURES 

Sunday in the Park with Bill: 

William Greaves' SymbiopsYChotaxiplasm: Take One 

by Scott MacDonald 

4 MEDIA CLIPS 

Frohnmayer's Fall: When Bush Comes to Shove at the NEA 

by Patricia Thomson 

Furnace Burned by National Council 

by Ellen Levy 

ITVS Contract Dispute Settled 

Cable Bill Threatens Public Access 

by Laurie Ouellette 

Setting FilmFree 

by Troy Selvaratnam 

14 LEGAL BRIEFS 

For the Price of a Song: Music Rights Clearance 

by Robert L. Seigel 

1 8 FIELD REPORTS 

Short Shrift: In Search of Short Film Venues 

by Eileen Wilkinson 

Eight Is Enough: United States Super 8 Film and Video Festival 

by J. Craig Shearman 

30 TALKING HEADS 

Order and Obsession: Alan Berliner on the Making of Intimate 
Stranger 

by Gabriella Oldham 

33 IN AND OUT OF PRODUCTION 

by Troy Selvaratnam 

34 FESTIVALS 

by Kathryn Bowser 

36 CLASSIFIEDS 

38 NOTICES 

40 MEMORANDA 



MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 3 



MEDIA CUPS 



FROHNMAYER'S FALL 

When Bush Comes to Shove at the NEA 



As the survivors of the 1992 presidential cam- 
paign stagger toward the primary season's finish 
line. Patrick Buchanan's negative ad pillorying 
the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for 
having "wasted our tax dollars on pornographic 
and blasphemous art" has long since slipped from 
the headlines. While Buchanan no longer poses a 
threat to the President, the damage his campaign 
inflicted on the endowment remains. On May 1, 
John Frohnmayer stepped down as chair of the 
embattled agency, ousted by Bush's men who 




Patrick Buchanan's negative ad and 

stump speech attacks on the NEA had a 

ripple effect that is still being felt. 



feared that Buchanan would turn this friend of the 
president into a political liability. It remains to be 
seen whether conservative Republican candidates 
will pick up their tar and feathers and follow the 
trail blazed by Buchanan when the congressional 
races heat up in the fall. 

To the public eye, Frohnmayer's fall came 
swiftly. Within a week's time, Buchanan became 
a serious contender after sweeping up 37 percent 
of the Republican vote in the New Hampshire 
primary on February 19. He introduced the art-as- 
pornography theme into his stump speech once 
the contest swung south. Bush's team responded 
by handing Frohnmayer his hat two days after 
New Hampshire. That Sunday on This Week with 
David Brinkley, three mainstream journalists — 



conservative columnist George Will, ABC's Sam 
Donaldson, and public broadcasting 'sCokie Rob- 
erts — agreed there was no need for a national arts 
endowment, giving credibility to what had pre- 
viously been a fringe position. Days later Buchanan 
aired his anti-NEA polispot in Georgia, a key state 
in the Junior Tuesday primaries. Significantly, 
Georgia legislators had previously reprimanded 
the executive director of the statewide public TV 
system for airing Tongues Untied, Marlon Rigg's 
documentary on gay blacks, telling him the 
station's state funding would be in jeopardy if 
such programs were aired in the future. 

It was Tongues Untied that Buchanan's team 
featured in their NEA spot. A blatant appeal to 
homophobia, the ad shows bare-chested, leather- 
haltered men dancing in the streets during a gay 
rights parade while a voice ominously intones, 
"This so-called art has glorified homosexuality, 
exploited children, and perverted the image of 
Jesus Christ. Even after good people protested, 
Bush continued to fund this kind of art." 

Riggs responded with an op-ed in the New York 
Times (March 6), taking Buchanan to task for his 
attempt to turn black gay men into the new Willie 
Horton. When asked whether the NEA planned to 
rebut the ad, an agency spokeswoman said, "No 
specific response is planned. That's what Bush's 
campaign is doing. We're trying to keep the 
campaign issue a campaign issue." (Weeks later 
Frohnmayer blasted Buchanan in a March 23rd 
appearance before the National Press Club. He 
also delivered a withering attack on Congress for 
backing content restrictions and mainstream reli- 
gious leaders for standing idly by while funda- 
mentalists pushed to obliterate public arts fund- 
ing. He warned, "If the National Endowment for 
the Arts gets picked off, public broadcasting is 
next, and after that research funds for universities, 
and after that research funds for science. There 
will be no end to it.") 

The Bush team's reaction was to call the ad 
"demagoguery" and "a blatant distortion of the 
truth." But they never spelled out where the dis- 
tortion lies — whether it's in the claims about the 
NEA supporting pornography or in linking Bush 
with the endowment. 

Frohnmayer's removal was widely seen as a 
matter of political expediency undertaken in the 
heat of the race. Although in the past Bush stood 
by Frohnmayer when his appointee came under 
fire, as a vulnerable candidate he sounded a dour, 
distancing note when announcing the chairman's 



4 THE INDEPENDENT 



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1 leave with the 
belief that this eclipse 
of the soul will soon 
pass and with it the 
lunacy that sees 
artists as enemies and 
ideas as demons." 



resignation, noting, "Some of the art funded by the 
NEA does not have my enthusiastic approval." 

But Frohnmayer's ouster was also part of a 
two-year internacine battle for control over the 
arts agency that was led by Vice President Dan 
Quayle's staff and former White House chief of 
staff John Sununu. What began as a fight over 
limiting the content of NEA-funded projects cul- 
minated in a dispute over the handling of a lawsuit 
brought by four performance artists (Karen Finley, 
John Fleck, Holly Hughes, and Tim Miller — 
dubbed the NEA 4) whose panel-approved grants 
were vetoed by the NEA's supervisory body, the 
National Council on the Arts. As documented in a 
series of confidential memos between the Justice 
Department and the NEA, obtained by investiga- 
tive reporter Bill Lichtenstein for the Village 
Voice (March 1 0), the Bush adminstration wanted 
to make use of the Supreme Court's controversial 
gag rule, Rust v. Sullivan, in the endowment's 
defense against the NEA 4. Rust prohibits doctors 
in health clinics that receive federal funding from 
discussing the option of abortion with their pa- 
tients. As the Justice Department saw it, the NEA 
4 case provided the perfect opportunity for estab- 
lishing a second beachhead for Rust while also 
hobbling controversial artists. 

Frohnmayer stubbornly and successfully re- 
sisted. Contrary to his past record as a bend-with- 
the-wind appointee, the documents show him 
waging a determined war against the Rust de- 
fense, according to Lichtenstein. Frohnmayer also 
promptly fired his second-in-command, White 
House appointee Alvin Felzenberg, when he was 
discovered to be the mole who leaked numerous 
internal documents to the press, including a memo 
accusing Deep Dish TV of being "Fidel Castro's 
propaganda arm in the US." 

By many accounts, Frohnmayer's two-and-a- 
half years at the agency turned him into a fervent 
First Amendment advocate. Although his role in 
the vetoing of grants to Highways and Franklin 
Furnace in January calls into question the depth of 
this conversion [see "Furnace Burned by National 
Council," p. 7], Frohnmayer's exit was accom- 
plished with grace and dignity. Speaking at an 
emotional staff meeting when announcing his 
resignation, the chairman concluded by saying, "I 





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leave with the belief that this eclipse of the soul 
will soon pass and with it the lunacy that sees 
artists as enemies and ideas as demons." 

As Frohnmayer was being herded to the exit, 
there was not a peep from the Democratic candi- 
dates about his outster, Buchanan's attack, or the 
NEA's place in society. When The Independent 
polled the five Democratic contenders in early 
March, none had yet formulated a position paper 
on public arts funding. 

Clinton's campaign instead delivered a one- 
sheet description of the governor's record in Ar- 
kansas. Clinton recommended an increase in the 
Arkansas Arts Council's budget last fiscal year, 
when most states' arts appropriations took a nose 
dive. The paper's primary emphasis was on 
Clinton's educational reform package, which re- 
quires that art and music be part of the curriculum 
in K-12, and Hillary Clinton's role in organizing 
various agencies to support local craft artists. 

Clinton's issues department also provided the 
following excerpt from an interview in the Chi- 
cago Tribune: 

Do you support content restrictions on grants 
made by the NEA ? 

While I believe that publicly funded projects 
should strive to reflect the values that most Ameri- 
cans share, I strongly support and will defend 
freedom of speech and artistic expression. 

Doyouwant the NEAfunded at current, greater, 
or lesser levels? 

The NEA has brought access to the arts to 
Americans everywhere, and thereby enriched us 
all. I certainly foresee no lessening of federal 
funding for the arts in a Clinton Administraiton. 

Do you think the mission of the NEA should be 
redefined? 

The NEA performs an invaluable service to the 
nation. After 25 years of growth and change it may 
be time to rethink its mission and structure. How- 
ever, this should not be done in the highly politi- 
cized atmosphere of an election contest. 

Jerry Brown 's campaign office did not respond 
to repeated calls regarding the The Independent's 
questionnaire on the NEA. Brown's national press 
secretary, Tom Pier, told the New York Times that 
Brown believes in giving the NEA "full support 
independent of the content of the art it supports." 

It appears unlikely that the President will name 
a successor to Frohnmayer — and risk an acrimo- 
nious confirmation hearing — prior to the Novem- 
ber election. Given the grim mood inside the 
beltway, some doubt whether there will even be 
an agency to run next year. Among those now 
calling for the abolition of the NEA is Republican 
National Committee chair Richard N. Bond. 
Though not in immediate danger, the NEA is not 
out of the woods. The NEA 4 lawsuit is still 
pending. The agency is without a permanent chair- 
person. The reauthorization battle looms in the 
fall. And the election year still has a long way to 
go. How these ingredients will blend or combust 

is anyone's guess. 

PATRICIA THOMSON 



6 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



FURNACE BURNED BY 
NATIONAL COUNCIL 

On January 31, the National Council on the Arts 
(NCA) overturned two National Endowment for 
the Arts (NEA) peer panel grant recommenda- 
tions because of sexual imagery. The New York 
performance space Franklin Furnace had its Vi- 
sual Artists Organization (VAO) grant renewal 
for the 1992-93 season denied by the council, 
which simultaneously reversed a VAO panel grant 
recommendation for Highways, a multicultural 
performance and exhibition space in Santa Monica 
headed by Tim Miller, one of the four artists 
engaged in a lawsuit against the NEA. 

Frameline, a nonprofit distributor that spon- 
sors the annual San Francisco International Les- 
bian and Gay Film Festival, is reworking its NEA 
grant application in an effort to avoid a similar 
fate. Frameline was notified earlier this year by 
NEA staff that its application, which had received 
a positive peer panel recommendation, would 
likely be rejected by the council if the festival 
were part of the grant. Frameline's application is 
slated for council review in May. Frameline ex- 
ecutive director Tom DiMaria was told that 
"upper management" was involved in the flag- 
ging of his organization's grant. DiMaria, who is 
working with NEA staff to revise the application 
to exclude festival funding, says his group is 
petitioning for donations from the public and 
various sources to fund this year's festival. The 
festival has received NEA support since 1988. 

According to the Village Voice, sources close 
to the endowment contend that it was NEA deputy 
director Anne-Imelda Radice who flagged the 
Franklin Furnace and Highways' grants after 
deputy chair for programs Randy McAusland 
brought to her attention a Franklin Furnace video- 
tape featuring a sexually explicit performance by 
Scarlett O. and a Highways slide that included the 
image of a penis. In a closed session held the day 
before the council's public meeting, 12 of the 
council's 19 members viewed the tape and slides 
in Frohnmayer's office along with Radice, public 
affairs director Jill Collins. Such closed-session 
reviews by council members started three Na- 
tional Council meetings earlier "to help the coun- 
cil understand the different programs," according 
to the National Association of Artists' Organiza- 
tions newsletter. 

The following day — in a highly unusual move — 
the tape and slides were screened at the request of 
council member and arts patron Jocelyn Levi 
Straus for the entire council, which subsequently 
reversed the peer panel recommendations. Tradi- 
tionally, the council has provided a rubber stamp 
for recommendations or returned them for recon- 
sideration to the panel. But at the January meeting, 
according to the public transcript, Frohnmayer 
pressed the council to make a decision rather than 
return the applications to the panel, as urged by 
council members Harvey Lichtenstein, president 
of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and poet 



Donald Hall. Hall cast the only vote in favor of 
Franklin Furnace's grant. The vote on Highways' 
grant split seven to 10. 

The Franklin Furnace board of directors main- 
tains that the reversal is based on sexually explicit 
performances of the 1990-91 season, rather than 
the merits of this season's 25 performances. In 
fact, the peer panel that reviewed the application 
cut Franklin Furnace's funding from $40,000 to 
$25,000 after viewing a portion of the Scarlett O. 
tape — not because it was sexually explicit, but 
because of its banality. "The panel felt the tapes 
did not represent a strong performance program," 
peerpanel chair Renny Pritikin, of San Francisco's 
New Langton Arts, told the Village Voice. Never- 
theless, Pritikin maintained, "This is a major insti- 
tution that should not be judged on the basis of one 
videotape." 

The grant reversals and the process by which 
they were accomplished represent another omi- 
nous fissure in the First Amendment wall in- 
tended to protect artistic expression. The public 
transcript reveals a battle between those council 
members who would maintain the integrity of 
panel review and artistic merit as the standard by 
which grants are judged, and those who would 
censor works in an effort to preempt criticism. 
Hall urged the council not to vote down the grants, 
with a warning: 

Hall: Exhibitionist Custerism is not the only 
way to destroy the Endowment. Too Solomoness 
is another way to destroy the Endowment, tending 
to look down as we did a moment ago, as perhaps 
we're now, on something which we fear that we 
will be criticized, or fear that we will be de- 
nounced. This action of the council will destroy 
the Endowment if it is continued. I beg and emplore 
you not to do this. 

Frohnmayer: Not to do what? 

Hall: Not to act out of fear of the bigots. 

ELLEN LEVY 

ITVS CONTRACT DISPUTE 
SETTLED 

Marlon Riggs got his first inkling that there might 
be a problem with the Independent Television 
Service (ITVS) Open Call contract when he re- 
ceived a message on his phone machine from 
fellow ITVS grant recipient and Ohio-based inde- 
pendent producer Jim Klein. Among other things, 
the contract prohibited contact with the press, 
severely limited nonbroadcast exhibition, and pro- 
vided for Corporation for Public Broadcasting or 
ITVS to assume the completion of projects with- 
out the producers ' approval in the case of a breach 
of contract. Riggs wrote a detailed response to 
ITVS expressing his concerns; he was not alone. 
Other grant recipients were contacting ITVS at 
the same time with similar complaints and several 
phoned Martha Gever, executive director of the 
Association of Independent Video and Filmmak- 
ers. In January, Gever and attorney Wilder Knight 
met with 1 1 producers in the AIVF offices in New 



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Kathe Sandler (right, in her ITVS- 

funded film A Question of Color] says 

the ITVS contract's press restrictions 

also touched on the question of color 

by limiting producers' ability to reach 

their targetted communities. 

Courtesy filmmaker 



York Cit) to discuss the ITVS contract. They 
formulated a list of 25 specific problems with the 
agreement's language. The ensuing negotiations 
with ITVS resulted in a new contract as well as a 
new understanding of ITVS and its relationship 
w ith the independent community . 

The decision of ITVS grantees to pursue col- 
lective action came after the producers failed to 
achieve changes through individual discussions 
with ITVS. "I had the sense that they weren't 
hearing a lot from producers," says Klein. "It was 
clear [ITVS) wanted to put together a strong 
program and didn't know whether this was one 
producer's problem." 

ITVS executive director John Schott contends 
that the service's initial reticence to alter the 
contract wasn't the result of a disregard for pro- 
ducers' concerns, but an attempt to maintain eq- 
uity. "For ITVS. matters of fairness are funda- 
mental. Lack of fairness was an essential part of 
the critique of public TV in response to which 
ITVS w as developed. We felt it was important to 
offer a contract that was essentially the same to all 
producers." 

Among producers' principal concerns were the 
restrictions placed on publicity and exhibition of 
ITVS-funded works. "The contract, as it was 
originally written, stipulated that funded produc- 
ers were not to have any contact with the press 
w ithout prior ITVS approval." notes Riggs. "That 
superceded what CPB ever had in their contracts. 
There was also a blanket prohibition against tick- 
eted community screenings." adds Riggs. "What 
ITVS didn't seem to realize is that these [exhibi- 
tions] are ways in which we get not only feedback 
but also develop community. The contract over- 
looked those communal and political aspects, 
privileging public broadcasting and treating any 
other value of independent work as marginal." 
The press restrictions were particularly problem- 
atic for people of color, contends producer Kathe 
Sandler, whose documentary A Question of Color 
received finishing funds from the service. Such 
producers. Sandler notes, have spent years devel- 
oping contacts w ith their communities, which are 
often not reached by the mainstream press. 

"it was never ITVS' intention to restrict inde- 
pendents' access to the press, but to provide a 
coordinated service." explains ITVS director of 
communications Ellen Schneider. "ITVS is in its 
infancy: it has to show it's having an effect. With 
limited means available for gauging audience 
response and the ephemeral nature of TV audi- 
ences, you're limited as to what kind of demon- 




strable responses you have. So press coverage 
becomes very important." 

ITVS was also concerned that prior theatrical 
or festival screenings might undermine efforts to 
gain coverage of the TV airing, since papers like 
the New York Times will often not review the 
television broadcast of a program if it has already 
received a film review. "It's not an effort to stifle 
advanced visibilty." Schneider explains, "it's an 
effort to work w ith it most effectively." 

"Their mandate is to innovate and expand pos- 
sibilities of the television medium." says Riggs. 
"but it's important to understand that many of 
these works have another kind of life." Riggs cites 
his own film. Tongues Untied, as an example of 
how prior exhibition can augment TV airing. 
Riggs contends that the positive critical reviews 
and numerous festival awards "made Tongues 
Untied defensible.... Its advance record made a 
stronger case than could any philosophical de- 
fense on the grounds of multiculturalism. I think 
there will be works coming down the pike on 
which confrontive interest groups will take a 
stance where it will be useful to be able to demon- 
strate that a work has generated a loyal and diverse 
audience." 

Producers objected as well to the fact that the 
contract appeared to give ITVS and CPB the right 
to finish a production without the producer's 
consent in the case of a breach of contract. "The 
way it was worded it sounded like ITVS could do 
what they wanted." says Klein. 

Schott explains that "We're very aware that 
we're going to be subject to serious scrutiny in 
terms of our ability to follow through on projects 
in which were investing S300.000 in public mon- 
ies. We were merely trying to build in a provision 
w hereby we would have some ability to render a 
project which was incomplete, complete. We have 
no concern to take materials over." Adds ITVS 
senior staff producer BienvenidaMatias. "There's 



a distinct difference between a grants contract — 
what the NEA might do — and what a production 
house might do. Not that we're a production 
house, but we have a responsibility to get the 
programs completed because we really want to 
get these programs on the air. We need people to 
see how important this work is." 

For the most part producers are satisfied w ith 
the negotiations, although limitations on theatri- 
cal exhibition remain a concern. "ITVS is head 
and shoulders and years beyond anyone else in 
PBS or CPB in terms of responsiveness to the 
concerns of independents." says Barbara Abrash. 
a seasoned independent producer who received a 
grant fora short film about Margaret Sanger. Most 
of the 25 points raised by the producers have been 
addressed and incorporated into a revised contract 
which should be ready by the end of March. The 
new contract explicitly states that in the event of 
a contract breach ITVS won't complete a project 
without the producer's express approval. And 
although ITVS still wants to coordinate publicity 
efforts w ith producers, it will be structured "in a 
more relaxed way." says associate staff producer 
Kate Lehmann. "Producers are asked to notify 
ITVS. and we'll consult with them on activities. 
But it will be a case of notification and consulta- 
tion, not approval or disapproval." Festival and 
noncommercial exhibition prior to broadcast will 
also be allowed. 

The issue of theatrical exhibition is less well 
resolved. According to the revised contract, a 
theatrical window of one year will be allowed 
producers whose work received two-thirds of its 
funding from sources other than ITVS. according 
to Lehmann. but all other Open Call projects will 
be judged individually and allowed theatrical dis- 
tribution prior to TV airing at ITVS' discretion. 
ITVS will consider a theatrical window on a case- 
by-case basis when programs are in a rough cut. 

"As with lots of the provisions in the contract. 



8 THE INDEPENDENT 



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[theatrical exhibition) is governed by the CPB- 
ITVS contract. We have to try to make sure 
producers' contracts sync up with ITVS-CPB 
agreements," says Lehmann. "We cannot, in the 
producer's agreement, approve ahead of time a 
theatrical release, but we can recognize that when 
producers have a substantial portion of their pro- 
duction money — two-thirds of the budget — that 
ITVS' internal policy will be to automatically 
establish a theatrical window, but this will still be 
subject to CPB approval." 

Although ITVS recognizes that independents' 
experience and methods can benefit broadcast, 
"It's really about TV," says Schneider. "We care 
deeply that these be seen and that they have a 
cumulative impact on TV. ITVS doesn't give out 
grants; we write contracts for individual TV pro- 
grams for independent producers." 

Abrash believes the negotiations were an im- 
portant part of developing a relationship between 
independents and ITVS. "It wasn't precisely clear 
to me before that ITVS is a different kind of 
service, that ITVS is actually contracting to pro- 
duce work. It's very advantageous to producers, 
but it isn't in the nature of a grant; it's a contract 
to produce programmming." 

The negotiations provided an opportunity to 
thrash out issues which haven't been discussed 
before, according to Abrash. such as what makes 
a TV program successful. "It clarified what ITVS 
sees as its mission and its job," she says. "The 
discussions created more parity," adds Sandler, 
"because clearly the things they're under attack 
for are the same things we're under attack for." 

There are no plans to incorporate the amend- 
ments from the Open Call contract into other 
ITVS initiative contracts, such as that for fiction. 
"Just as the programs for different initiatives take 
different forms. I can imagine that each initiative 
contract will have a different form." explains 
Schott. "I think we have a good contract for the 
Open Call, but for the fiction initiative I imagine 
it's going to be very different." 

"We want to rethink public television and in 
rethinking TV we also have to rethink how we do 
business." says Matias. "We're doing something 
substantially different than what has ever been 
done before," cocurs Schott. "We're trying to 
establish a dramatic new model for television, and 
that involves establishing a new model for how we 
and independents relate and a new relationship to 
the medium." 

EL 

CABLE BILL THREATENS 
PUBLIC ACCESS 

For many viewers, cable access television fills the 
role of the town square, providing a forum for 
multiple viewpoints on a wide range of subjects. 
Cable access TV provides citizens a rare opportu- 
nity to produce and air grassroots media mes- 
sages, and those most marginalized can employ it 
for unification and to disseminate information not 
carried bv the mainstream media. But cable ac- 



cess programming could be undercut if several 
amendments to a new piece of federal cable legis- 
lation become law. Sponsored by Senator Jesse 
Helms (R-NC), Wynche Fowler (D-GA), and 
Trent Lott (D-MS), the amendments would en- 
able cable operators to restrict so-called "inde- 
cent." "unlawful," and "sexually explicit" pro- 
gramming on leased and public access cable and 
to itemize on customer billing the cost of public 
access. 

The amendments, which passed unanimously 
by voice vote during debate of the bill on the 
Senate floor, are part of the Cable Television 
Consumer Protection Act (S. 12), authored by 
Senator John Danforth (R-MO). The first major 
piece of cable legislation since 1984. the bill is 
designed to help regulate the monopolistic cable 
industry and protect viewers from rate increases 
and poor customer service. The bill passed by a 
73-18 vote in the Senate late January. The House 
version (HR 1303), authored by Senator Edward 
Markey (D-MA), is expected to pass sometime in 
April. 

Senator Helms ' amendment targets leased cable 
access. Currently cable franchises are required by 
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 
to lease time on dedicated channels to individuals 
and nonprofit and consumer groups to ensure that 
cable operators don't monopolize programming. 
Aimed at "reducing indecent programming on 
cable TV." Helms' amendment would authorize 
the FCC to allow cable operators to refuse pro- 
grams for leased access "that the cable operator 
reasonably believes describes or depicts sexual 
imagery or excretory activities or organs in a 
patently offensive manner." The amendment also 
directs the FCC to set regulations requiring cable 
operators to designate a single leased-access chan- 
nel for programming judged "indecent" and to 
scramble the channel unless the subscriber re- 
quests the channel in writing. 

Jean Carlomusto, an access producer for New 
York City's Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), is 
worried that important public service information 
might be censored as "sexually explicit" or "ob- 
scene" under Helms' amendment. "At GMHC, 
we used leased access to put out a variety of 
programming which might be considered sexu- 
ally explicit material, but which is in fact intended 
toeducate the public about AIDS. Because Helm's 
amendment can be interpreted so broadly, it poses 
a scary — and dangerous — threat to our work. 
Should the amendment go into effect, it could tie 
our hands and in fact nullify what we are trying to 
do." 

Senator Fowler's amendment poses a similar 
threat to programs on public access — channels set 
aside for programs produced by community resi- 
dents. Fowler's amendment would authorize the 
FCC to allow cable operators to prohibit "ob- 
scene" programming as well as material "promot- 
ing sexually explicit conduct" or "unlawful con- 
duct" from airing on public access channels. 

According to Andrew Blau. chair of the Na- 
tional Federation of Local Cable Programmers 



10 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



(NFLCP), "These channels were not supposed to 
be censored by the government or the cable opera- 
tors. Now, for the first time, the government is 
putting programming set up to be free of censor- 
ship under the control of cable operators in the 
name of public morality." 

Under Fowler's amendment, cable operators 
are presented with dangerously vague standards 
to decide what can and cannot be aired, says Blau. 
"Any discussion of civil disobedience, such as not 
registering for the draft, could be seen as promot- 
ing 'unlawful' conduct," contends Blau. "With 
sodomy laws still on the books in many states, 
cable access programming dealing with gay is- 
sues could be attacked as promoting [unlawful] 
homosexuality." 

Blau warns that the premise of Fowler' s amend- 
ment — that "cable access is used in many cities to 
solicit prostitution" — is false and dangerously 
misleading. Shows advertising phone-sex ser- 
vices air on leased channels in some urban com- 
munities, but not on public access channels, ex- 
plains Blau. 

"The vast majority of public access program- 
ming has nothing to do with unlawful conduct or 
sexually explicit material," agrees Alex Quinn, 
director of the newly formed Manhattan Cable 
Access, a nonprofit organization that administers 
New York City public access channels. "But 
Fowler's amendment might lead people to believe 
that it does." 

Quinn is worried about what might happen if 
the control of public access shifts away from local 
communities into the hands of government. "By 
giving the FCC the authority to oversee the cen- 
sorship of cable access by the cable operators, this 
bill represents an attempt to centralize authority at 
the federal level," argues Quinn. "Clearly [this] is 
not an isolated incident, but just one in a progres- 
sion of steps made by the government towards the 
restriction of freedom of speech as guaranteed by 
the First Amendment." 

An amendment sponsored by Senator Lott has 
cable access supporters troubled about the future 
availability of cable access facilities for public 
use. Generally access production facilities are 
paid for by a portion of the cable company's 
franchise fee to the city . Under Lott ' s amendment, 
the FCC is urged to set standards by which cable 
operators can itemize the percentage of consum- 
ers' cable bills allocated to franchise fees and 
cable access. "This legislation is an attempt to 
generate resentment toward public access," says 
Blau. "This is a time-honored tactic already used 
by some cable operators to make cable-access 
channels unpopular among consumers," which 
the FCC's endorsement will only make worse. 
Blau notes that while costs generated by cable 
access production would be itemized, the cost of 
other channels and the enormous amount of money 
the cable industry spends lobbying politicians and 
the FCC would not. 

The bill continues to uphold "must-carry" pro- 
tection despite heavy lobbying against such a 
provision by the cable industry. Must carry man- 



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dates that broadcast channels, including all local 
nonduplicative public television stations, must be 
carried on the basic tier by cable systems with 
more than 36 channels. 

To prevent the House from passing the restric- 
tive amendments, the NFLCP is urging cable 
access supporters to contact subcommittee mem- 
bers as well as their state representatives. Even if 
the amendments are defeated in the House, 
Carlomusto, whose AIDS-related material has 
been subject to censorship by cable operators in 
the past, warns that independents should be pre- 
pared for further attacks against cable access: 
"Helms [and his right-wing cohorts] might be shot 
down this time, but cable access is sure to be on his 
back burner. They will bring it up again and again 
until they can make a scandal out of something 
and bring it to the forefront." 

LAURIE OUELLETTE 

Laurie Ouellette, formerly of the Utne Reader, is 
a graduate student at the New School for Social 
Research in New York. She writes frequently 
about media and censorship issues. 

SETTING FILMFREE 

The Rotterdam Film Festival has distinguished 
itself by not merely screening films, but address- 
ing relevant aesthetic and political issues through 
conferences and special programs. In his first year 
as its director, Emile Fallaux has assumed the 
responsibility of continuing this festival tradition. 
Fallaux has pledged to "combine a long-time 
commitment to the individualist approach to film- 
making with a strong social concern. The value of 
uncompromisingly personal art will be stressed. 
At the same time, the defense of freedom of 
expression requires political action..." 

To this end, Fallaux, actor and critic Paul 
Mclsaac, and Patricia Pisters organized the Limits 
of Liberty conference at the Rotterdam Film Fes- 
tival in February in order to establish an interna- 
tional filmmakers' organization to fight censor- 
ship and repression of filmmakers worldwide. 
Dubbed FilmFree. the organization will function 
in a manner similar to PEN International, expos- 
ing the arrest, violence, intimidation, censorship, 
and politically motivated defunding faced by film- 
makers worldwide and will work toward lifting 
restrictions on their civil liberties. The organiza- 
tion will also identify specific film projects which 
have been denied funding in their countries of 
origin and are in need of international support. 

Conference participant Robert Hilferty, whose 
documentary about a 1 989 demonstration by AIDS 
activists at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, 
Stop the Church, was pulled from PBS' P.O.V. 
series last August, says, "It's hard to predict just 
how powerful and effective FilmFree will be- 
come, but all in all the conference was very 
positive, and it was good to have an outline for 
responding to dangers in other parts of the world." 

The Limits of Liberty conference comprised 



12 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



several days of screenings of works by filmmak- 
ers who have experienced censorship and politi- 
cal suppression firsthand and two intensive days 
of discussions in which the embryonic plans for 
FilmFree were drafted. Among the 49 participants 
were filmmakers Jill Godmilow (USA), Jon Jost 
(USA), Trinh T. Minh-ha (Vietnam/USA), Eli 
Suleiman (Palestine/USA), critic Derek Malcolm 
(UK), and Hungarian writer and PEN Interna- 
tional acting president Gyorgy Konrad. 

"It was an extraordinary experience," relates 
Mclsaac, "especially when it became clear that we 
weren't about to agree on every issue. For in- 
stance, the Russian representatives motioned to 
allow only 150 foreign films a year to enter their 
country so as to protect Russian filmmakers from 
impossible competition. And while we could agree 
with their position, the question we asked was, 
'Which 150 films are you going to let in?'" 

There were two major steps in creating FilmFree 
upon which every participant agreed, acknowl- 
edges Mclsaac. The first was to establish a com- 
mittee to lay out a step-by-step development 
scheme, including how to fund the organization. 
The second step was to devise a response strategy. 
The system decided upon is similar to the cam- 
paigns of Amnesty International and Human Rights 
Watch, in which members of the film community 
are informed about repression suffered by a film- 
maker and asked to embark on a letter-writing 
campaign. Argentine filmmaker Fernando 
Solanas, critic of President Carlos Menem's gov- 
ernment, has advocated the utility of such efforts, 
as he himself benefitted from letter-writing cam- 
paigns during his periods of artistic silencing. 
Letter campaigns might address defunding of the 
arts in the US, protest the imprisonment of film- 
makers in the Third World, or challenge the an- 
nouncement by the Georgian republic ' s ne w presi- 
dent that artists are enemies of the people (and the 
consequent imprisonment of filmmaker Georg 
Haindrava for attempting to film a political dem- 
onstration). FilmFree will be more akin to PEN 
International, however, in that a variety of tactics 
will be employed, such as directly corresponding 
with artists in jail and taking care of their families. 
To assist the program, the Rotterdam Film Festi- 
val has donated desk space and access to comput- 
ers in their Rotterdam offices and has provided 
funding for a part-time acting administrator, 
Patricia Pister. 

If all goes according to plan, FilmFree will 
have a long life and far-reaching influence. Al- 
ready some of the participants of the Limits of 
Liberty conference have been asked to present 
their proposals at the Human Rights Watch Film 
Festival in New York this month. 

For more information, or to notify FilmFree of 
abuses, contact: Patricia Pisters, acting adminis- 
trator, FilmFree c/o Rotterdam Film Festival, PO 
Box 21696, 3001 Rotterdam, The Netherlands; 
tel: 31-10-41-18-080; fax: 31-10-41-35-132. 

TROY SELVARATNAM 



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MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 13 



LEGAL BRIEFS 






FOR THE PRICE OF A SONG 

Music Rights Clearance 



ROBERT L. SEIGEL 



The marriage of music and media is ob\ ious to 
even the most casual film-goer and television 
\ lew er. How e\ er. securing the rights to composi- 
tions and recordings can be a prolonged and 
confusing task, particularly for independents who 
are frequently lacking in two essential assets: 
sufficient time and money . 

If an independent producer plans to use pre- 
existing music, the earlier the choice is made the 
better. The best time to select songs is during the 
development and preproduction stages. This way 
a producer can prepare both creative!) and finan- 
cially by formulating a realistic music budget. 

The Basic Licenses 

The process of securing or "clearing" appropriate 
rights to a composition usually involves obtaining 
se\ eral licenses. One key license is the synchroni- 
zation or sync license. This gives you the right to 
reproduce a composition in tandem or synchroni- 
zation with your film or video's visual images. 
You will need a separate sync license for virtually 
any piece of music that wasn't commissioned 
specifically for your project. It's a requisite for 
using both recordings and new renditions of an 
existing piece of music. If. for instance, you want 
to use Nirvana's recording of Smells Like Teen 
Spirit, you'll need to start with a sync license. But 
e\ en if \ our own garage band is going to perform 
the piece for your film, you'll still need a sync 
license to use the composition. 

Distinct from a sync right, a song's perfor- 
mance right concerns the right to perform a song 
publicly. It is generally required for a work to be 
exhibited in a movie theater or on television and is 
usually included in a sync license. One would 
never clear performance rights w ithout also get- 
ting sync rights. 

Sync rights generally are controlled by a song's 
publisher. The publisher may either own or co- 
own a copyright, or it may represent the person 
who does — often the composer or lyricist. One 
can find out a song's copyright owner or publisher 
by looking on an album or by contacting the music 
performance rights societies — the American So- 
ciety of Composers. Authors and Publishers 
( ASCAP). Broadcast Music. Inc. (BMI). and the 
Society of European Stage Authors and Compos- 
ers (SESAC). These groups generally administer 



a song's performance rights on behalf of the 
copyright owner. They can assist in securing 
music rights by directing you to w homever owns 
or administers the publishing and performance 
rights to a song so that a sync license can be 
secured. However, they are legally prohibited 
from issuing performance rights licenses for US 
theatrical exhibition. Outside the US these perfor- 
mance rights societies (and foreign rights societ- 
ies) can collect monies on behalf of songwriters 
and publishers from non-US theatrical exhibitors. 

You w ill need to negotiate the amount of the 
sync license fee and which rights are to be 
granted — theatrical, television, home video, etc. 
The cost of a sync license ranges from SI .000 to 
S50.000 and may occasionally run higher. The 
price-tag depends on such factors as the popular- 
ity of the song (often reflected by its position on 
the Billboard or Cash 5o.\ magazine charts), when 
it was popular, and the song's sales record. In 
addition, the budget of the film/video project is 
taken into consideration, plus w hether the project 
has a distributor in place, and the length and use of 
the song in the project — whether, for instance, it's 
background music from a radio or featured in a 
prominent dance scene. 

Film- and videomakers should obtain a general 
license covering the performance rights to a song 
from the appropriate rights society, or from the 
publisher or songwriter if they haven't entered 
into an agreement with a rights society. Any airing 
of a film/video on any television outlet — whether 
free. pay. basic cable, pay-per-view . or satellite — 
should be covered by a general license to use a 
particular song. This would be secured by the 
film/videomaker. although the broadcaster is re- 
sponsible for paying a performance rights society 
for the right to publicly perform a given song in a 
specific medium. The broadcaster generally pays 
a blanket license for the use of a performance 
rights society's catalog of songs. 

Negotiating for the Afterlife 

Given the grow ing afterlife of film/video projects 
in today 's technologically developing markets, an 
independent producer should try to secure a sync 
license in perpetuity, or at least for the lifetime of 
the film/video's copyright or the song's copy- 
right. (When a song's copyright expires, the song 
falls into the public domain, where anyone can use 
it without paying the songwriters or publishers.) 
Otherwise, you may be forced to pay a signifi- 
cantly higher price for a song when the license 



needs to be renewed. Some publishers and 
songwriters will license a song's use in a film or 
video for 1 or 20 years, with the need to renego- 
tiate after that term. In a worst-case scenario, if 
you and the copyright owner can't agree on the 
renewal terms of a sync license, which generally 
include higher licensing fees, that particular song 
must be removed. Such was the case with John 
Sayles' Baby. It' s You, in which some of the music 
in the theatrical version had to be replaced with 
new cleared music when the film went to home 
video. 

A producer who is mindful of the multiple 
outlets for a film or video will want to obtain a 
very broad grant of rights to use a song in such 
media as television (free. pay. basic, syndication, 
satellite, pay-per-view), home video, laser disc, 
soundtrack, and "by any and all methods and 
media, whether now know n or hereafter devised." 
Such contractual language prevents a producer 
from omitting any new technological breakthrough 
that was not contemplated when the agreement 
was signed. The licensing agreement should also 
permit "incidental" use of a song — i.e.. in ads, 
trailers, and other promotional material. (It is 
permissible to take a song used in one specific 
sequence in the film and incorporate it into a 
different sequence for promotional purposes.) 

Knowing the profit potential of the home video 
market, music publishers and copyright owners 
will attempt to demand a separate fee in this area 
on a continuing royalty basis, based on the num- 
ber of videogram units (videocassettes and laser 
discs sold). The formulas will vary. Some are for 
X-cents royalty per song per unit sold, others for 
Y-percent of the unit's wholesale price with the 
royalties pro-rated among the various songs on 
the soundtrack. 

Film/videomakers should resist such royalty 
payments when negotiating a sync license. Pro- 
ducers w ho agree to pay a continuing home video 
royalty may encounter problems when dealing 
with financing end users, such as distributors, 
video software companies, cable TV. etc. who 
contribute production funds. Since they are foot- 
ing the bill, they may balk at the cost of continuing 
royalties, especially if they control the home video 
rights through their own or affiliated home video 
company. Such end users may well urge the 
producer to delete the song prior to its release. An 
additional problem, notes Barbara Zimmerman of 
the New York-based BZ/Rights, a rights clear- 
ance service, is that royalties can raise unneces- 



14 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



Right: Having a friend or performer play a public 
domain piece may still entail certain costs, such as 
fees and residuals collected by AFTRA and AFofM. 

Below: To use a cut from the Red Hot Chili 
Peppers' CD in a film, you'll need a sync license, 
performance rights, and a master use license. 
Having your own garage band perform the song 
eliminates the need to clear some, but not all, 
rights. 

Courtesy Warner Bros. Records, Inc. 

Bottom: Although Bach's music falls in the public 
domain, don't expect to use Glen Gould's 1 955 
recording of the Goldberg Variations unless you 
get a master use license from copyright holder 
Sony Classical. 

Cover design Henrietta Conka, courtesy Sony Classical 




l&tfrc<rt Performances Ml 



* It t l<Ct » ■ 



GOUUTS EICfTlNG DEBUT RECORDING OF 1955 

B AC H 

GOLDBERG 
VARIATIONS 




GOULD 

PIANO 



sary accounting problems and be too costly for a 
producer. It's best to offer a one-time payable flat 
fee — a video "buyout" payment for all media and 
markets. Such fees can range from $1,000 to 
$25,000 per song and often higher. 

"Licenses should be perpetual, especially with 
features," adds Zimmerman. "With educational 
films, limits perhaps can be placed regarding a 
license 's term." Generally, educational films have 
a shorter marketing afterlife than features, with 




fewer videocassettes sold. This makes the pay- 
ment of a continuing royalty for music rights in a 
nontheatrical project less cost-prohibitive than 
with feature projects. 

Independent producers should attempt to ne- 
gotiate all these sync rights as early as possible in 
the production process. If publishers are aware of 
the importance of a song to your project, they will 
try to charge a higher fee than was initially dis- 
cussed. If you're not sure whether or to what 
extent the home video market will be exploited, 
you can negotiate an option to purchase these 
rights within a stated period of time for an agreed 
upon price. Optioning sync rights to such second- 
ary media is less expensive than purchasing them 
upfront. 

Using Recorded Music 

If you want to use a recorded performance of a 
song — the Red Hot Chili Pepper's rendition of 



Fire, Frank Sinatra's New York, New York, or 
John Adams' Nixon in China — you will need a 
master use license in addition to a sync license. 
This grants the right to use the actual recorded 
performance of a song. Master use licenses are 
generally obtained from the record company own- 
ing the copyright to the recording of a song, as 
opposed to the song itself. It is somewhat similar 
to a sync license in that a master use license must 
be negotiated by the film/video producer and a 
record company for the right to use a recording in 
different markets and media "whether now known 
or hereafter devised" or on a separate media basis 
(theatrical, free, basic, pay, satellite, pay-per- 
view, home video, nontheatrical, etc.). The debate 
between flat fees versus continuing royalty pay- 
ments that exists with sync licenses is applicable 
here as well. 

So, too, are the issues of license term and 
territory. In both the sync and master use licensing 



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areas, film/videomakers should be aware that 
publishers, copyright owners, and record compa- 
nies may offer licenses for dissimilar terms for 
different songs and recordings. Producers should 
request licenses "in perpetuity" or. at least, "for 
the lifetime of the copyright of the film/video" or 
"for the lifetime of the song or recording's copy- 
right." Otherwise you must attempt to reconcile 
the varied, overlapping licensing terms. 

A master use license should also cover a terri- 
tory that is worldwide or "throughout the uni- 
verse." However, producers may encounter prob- 
lems and be forced to negotiate with more than 
one party if different music publishers hold or 
administer separate rights in separate territories. 
For instance, a song's sync rights and a recorded 
performance master use rights may be held by 
different publishers and record companies, with 
some representing North American rights and 
others representing foreign territories. A 
producer's problems are aggravated if the parties 
are contractually obligated to concur on the terms 
of a given license. This kind of situation may 
come up when a songwriter or recording artist 
objects to having their music used in certain types 
of projects — e.g.. films that may be considered 
too violent or sexually explicit. 

In addition, producers should be certain that 
music publishers and record companies have the 
right to license a song. Most do have the authority 
to negotiate on behalf of a songwriter or an artist. 
In the case of a master use license, an artist's rights 
to publicity and privacy may have to be addressed 
during negotiations, since some state laws prevent 
the use of another person's "likeness, signature, or 
voice" without permission from that person or his 
or her estate. 

Furthermore, the cost of master use licenses 
can fall within the same range (SI ,000 to S25.OO0 
or higher) as the cost of a sync license. Even with 
a one-time fee for a master use license a producer 
can be held responsible for making payments to 
third parties — e.g., musicians and unions, includ- 
ing the American Federation of Musicians 
(AFofM) and the American Federation of Televi- 
sion and Radio Artists (AURA). 

Cutting Costs 

Independents often try to avoid paying expensive 
master use licenses by obtaining just the sync 
license and commissioning a new recording. This 
tactic can be problematic. A producer must not 
only pay the musicians and performers for their 
services and all recording costs. You may also be 
exposed to charges of presenting "sound-alikes" 
meant to deceive the public and "voice appropria- 
tion" claims reminiscent of the Bene Midler v. 
Ford Motor Co. case, in which the singer pre- 
vailed. 

Another troublesome area is when producers 
use a composition that has fallen out of copyright 
and into the public domain. While there is no 
copyright owner to be paid, you must still secure 
a master use license in order to use a particular 
recording. If you want to use Glen Gould's his- 



16 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



toric 1955 recording of J.S. Bach's Goldberg 
Variations, for instance, the eighteenth century 
piece itself does not require copyright clearance, 
but you would have to go to Sony Classical for a 
master use license. If, on the other hand, you find 
someone else to play the Bach variations, that 
person (if professional) could be entitled to fees 
and residuals collected by AFofM and AFTRA. 

The Searchers 

There are several means by which music rights 
may be cleared. Film/videomakers can assume 
the task themselves, or they can hire an attorney, 
music supervisor/coordinator, or a rights clear- 
ance service. Music supervisors are generally 
engaged to select compositions and recordings. 
Some also negotiate and secure music rights, but 
many do not. Often they work in conjunction with 
a production counsel, focusing their efforts on 
selecting music for the film/video project and also 
for any soundtrack album that may serve as a tie- 
in. Securing rights for a soundtrack album usually 
involves separate negotiations with copyright 
owners, music publishers, and record compa- 
nies — and should be the basis of a separate article. 
Independent films without a major distributor 
generally do not have a soundtrack album tie-in, 
although there are exceptions, such as Sidewalk 
Stories, Queens Logic, and True Love. 

Music clearance services are another avenue 
for independents to secure rights. These services 
range in price and size from the Hollywood-based 
Clearing House, Ltd. to smaller, independent ser- 
vices, such as Rights Chasers and BZ/Rights, 
which has a client list including Spike Lee and 
Slacker's Richard Linklater. 

As BZ/Rights' Zimmerman explains, music 
clearance services are beneficial to a producer 
"since fast work is needed" most times to meet 
production and postproduction deadlines. These 
services have on-going relationships with music 
publishers and record companies, which can fa- 
cilitate the securing of music rights. In addition, 
says Zimmerman, clearance services have re- 
sources to locate many seemingly unfindable copy- 
right owners. She cites the case of a song in 
Slacker that was released on a now-defunct label 
and wasn't included in any professional music 
reference guide or index. Nevertheless, Zim- 
merman's company eventually located the song's 
composer — a South African living in Germany. 

Clearance services charge on an hourly, per 
song, or flat-fee basis, and discounts are some- 
times available to producers for volume music 
clearance work. One suggestion Zimmerman of- 
fers producers with small music budgets is to 
select music and secure rights using a single 
source — a publisher's catalog or a record com- 
pany's music library, where thousands of songs 
and recordings are available. She also recom- 
mends that low-budget producers offer flat fees 
and deferments, or "bumps," which increase the 
price of a licensing fee based on a film/video's 
performance in the marketplace. "Sometimes you 
get a chance to get a low price for a song in a good 



art film," Zimmerman explains. "If so, producers 
can save thousands of dollars upfront. If the film 
doesn't do well, the producers have paid just the 
original fee." Deferments can be based on such 
factors as a film's box office performance as 
stated in such entertainment trade publications as 
Variety or The Hollywood Reporter. 

Odds and Ends 

There are a number of other general deal points to 
be addressed when negotiating sync and master 
use licensing agreements: 

• Producers should obtain the right to use an 
artist's name in a film/video's credits and in all 
publicity and promotional materials. 

• Producers should try to prevent a composition 
or a recording from being used without your 
consent in potentially competitive projects for a 
specific period of time — e.g., six months from 
securing the license or six months from the project ' s 
initial release or broadcast. A caveat: this provi- 
sion is very difficult to obtain from rights owners 
who wish to maximize the profit potential of their 
assets. 

• A producer or music supervisor should at- 
tempt to ensure that licensing fees are not payable 
until a project's initial release. Most rights hold- 
ers, however, will insist upon payment of fees 
regardless of a project's release or exhibition due 
to the precarious nature of the entertainment in- 
dustry, where projects may stay on the shelf for 
years. 

• The clearance and licensing of music rights 
should occur before a recording or composition is 
incorporated into the soundtrack. (Such clearance 
is essential for Errors and Omissions insurance.) 

• A producer should obtain a warranty indicat- 
ing that a copyright owner possesses the rights in 
issue, or that a music publisher or recording com- 
pany has the right and authority to administer and 
negotiate such rights. 

• Producers should be aware that, unlike the 
case of sync licenses, performing rights societies 
are not involved with master use licenses, since 
there is currently no public performance right to 
sound recordings under US copyright law. Copy- 
right laws outside the US, however, can differ. 

Music can be as important an element in a 
project as set design and lighting. But producers 
should retain some perspective when dealing with 
potential licensors and reconcile the cost of music 
clearance with the importance of a song in a film 
or video. As Zimmerman advises, "Check the 
price of a song . If it ' s too high, bump the song. For 
every song that could cost $20,000 or more to 
license, there are thousands of songs that can be 
licensed for $5,000." Similar to most creative 
endeavors, the battle between art and commerce 
continues. 

Robert L. Seigel is a New York City entertainment 
attorney who writes widely about business and 
legal issues affecting independent film- and 
videomakers and is a principle in the Cinema Film 
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MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 17 



:LD REPORTS 



SHORT SHRIFT 

In Search of Short Film Venues 



EILEEN WILKINSON 



During the period from 1863 to 1910. there were 
17.600 short films released in the USA. In 1992. 
the professional short film is nearly nonexistent, 
and the number of companies producing or ac- 
quiring shorts for commercial release can be 
counted on a few fingers. 

The theatrical market has withered as trailers, 
screen advertising, and tighter daily screening 
schedules have edged out pre-feature shorts. Ever 
since the mid-eiehties. the television market has 




Dean Parisofs weirdly comic Tom Goes 

to the Bar is one of the shorts circulating 

in the new theatrical package called the 

Festival of Short Films. 

Courtesy 1 st International Festival of Short Films 



also been shrinking. The cable channels HBO. 
Lifetime, and Arts & Entertainment regularly pro- 
grammed shorts in their earlier years, but have 
since cut back. 

The good news in the world of television and 
cable broadcast is that Bravo. Showtime, and the 
Movie Channel are still airing shorts, and PBS 
stations nationwide have slots for filler. Bravo 
picks up shorts of up to 30 minutes for interstitial 
programming and even accepts submissions. (They 
prefer an inquiry letter be sent before forw arding 
a tape.) 

Both Showtime and the Movie Channel air 
shorts produced by Chanticleer Films under the 
aegis of the much lauded Discovery Program. 
This program was set up by producer Jonathan 



Sanger and attorney-agent Jana Sue Memel in 
1987 to allow film professionals the opportunity 
to direct 35mm shorts for their resume reels. 
Ironically, the Discovery Program, which pro- 
duces six shorts a year after combing through 600 
proposals, is only open to first-time directors. 

Of the three films nominated by the Academy 
for a live action short this year, two (Birch Street 
Gym and Session Man) are Chanticleer Films and 
the third (Last Breeze of Summer) is an American 
Film Institute thesis film. 

When asked about the viability of short films in 
the marketplace, executive producer Memel says 
flatly, "'There is no market for short films. The 
Discovery shorts are calling cards. The program 
was designed as a springboard for new directors 
and has been successful to that end." 

Yet the Discovery Program has found a pretty 
spectacular niche in a market that doesn't exist. 
Showtime and the Movie Channel offer agreeable 
domestic outlets, and Fox/Lorber, an outfit that 
acts as a foreign sales agent for American televi- 
sion series, has w orked up a variable title package 
of Discovery shorts for theatrical release. In the 
variable title scheme, a buyer can select which 
shorts will be marketed as a compilation for the- 
atrical release in a given territory. Fox/Lorber is 
currently tying up deals for the compilation pack- 
age in Japan. France. Spain. Germany, and the 
US. 

"There's really no market for shorts, of course." 
says Good Machine executive producer James 
Schamus. "Our interest in shorts is 'production as 
development.' The short gives us an opportunity 
to see what the working relationship with a direc- 
tor w ill be like, and then we know whether or not 
we want to continue that relationship.'" 

Schamus" scheme is to take leftover film stock 
and offer it to directors whose feature projects 
he's considering for production. He is currently 
working on a feature with Nicole Holofcener. 
whose five-minute Angry was 'produced in devel- 
opment" from film stock left over from Hal 
Hartley's Surviving Desire and played at this 
year's Sundance Film Festival. Holofcener was 
able to use this short to demonstrate her directing 
abilities to the LA-based HBO Independent Pro- 
ductions, which optioned her feature-length 
screenplay Everything Matters and plans to allow 
her to direct it. 

Despite the downbeat prognosis for shorts' life 
in the marketplace, there will always be a steady 
stream of such w ork coming from students, aspir- 



18 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



ing directors, and those filmmakers who simply 
prefer the genre. And every so often some ven- 
turesome soul will try to create a new venue for 
shorts. The most recent attempt is the Festival of 
Short Films (FoSF). This travelling package of 
nine films was organized by filmmaker Jeffrey 
Hamblin together with Shane Peterson and Sean 
Reilly, who have 13 years experience promoting 
specialty film programs. The 105-minute package 
has so far had successful runs in San Diego, Santa 
Barbara, Long Beach, San Francisco, and Los 
Angeles. The bookings vary; in San Francisco it 
ran just two weekends, while in Los Angeles, the 
festival was originally scheduled for two weeks 
and was held over for a third. The national tour is 
still taking shape, but FoSF has confirmed book- 
ings in Minneapolis, Madison, Boston, and Van- 
couver. The organizers are still seeking a theater 
in New York City. The venues are generally art 
houses, though in Minneapolis the festival will 
unspool at Suburban World, a first-run theater. 

FoSF's selection of films includes two from 
New Zealand (where there are government pro- 
grams supporting the production of shorts) and 
one narrative from Canadian documentarian Barry 
Greenwald. The balance is composed of Ameri- 
can student films, except for Tom s Bar, directed 
by Academy-award winner Dean Parisot. 

Hamblin, Peterson, and Reilly intend to repeat 
the project annually and are looking for submis- 
sions for their next festival. The freshest part of 
the enterprise is that the filmmakers actually re- 
ceive a percentage of the gross. Information on 
submitting material can be obtained by calling 
(800) 925-CINE. 

An earlier semi-theatrical venue was created 
along different lines by filmmaker Matthew 
Harrison in New York City. In 1985 Harrison 
founded Film Crash to get his short films out to an 
audience beyond friends or family and as a way of 
seeing other people's films. Film Crash started 
out with hot-out-of-the camera screenings once a 
month at a rented storefront on the Lower East 
Side and attracted films, filmmakers, and audi- 
ences. 

"The value of it is that you see that there are a 
number of films that everyone seems compelled 
to make, like the cliched films of suicide and 
rebellion. So you just learn from them, and you 
don't have to go and make it yourself," explains 
Harrison. "About half the Film Crash directors are 
students, but most are making shorts to make 
films, not resumes for directing jobs. The resume 
films really scream out at you." 

The East Village's performance art space P.S. 
1 22 picked up on the wave of interest and offered 
to screen the films to a larger audience every three 
months. Then in 1990 Film Crash screened six 
hours of shorts at the Angelika Film Center and 
expanded into tape distribution. But Film Crash 
has been winding down a bit since Harrison started 
shooting his first feature. Spare Me. Will he con- 
tinue to make shorts? "Probably not. I started Film 
Crash thinking that if I could learn everything 



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Director Robert Castle 
put together an industry 
screening of his short 
The Water Man and 
even managed to find 
an executive willing to 
cover the cost of 
advertising, mailing, 
and catering. 

Courtesy filmmoker 



there is about making short films, I would be ready 
to make a feature. Now I'm doing that. I've 
exhausted the value of the short for myself. I think 
I've learned everything I can learn." 

At the same time that filmmakers lament the 
lack of outlets for shorts, programmers and buyers 
often complain there is no good product. FoSF's 
Hamblin says that one of the greatest difficulties 
the San Diego-based festival has had is finding 
films. Lisa Honing, director of acquisitions at 
Tapestry International, solicits films through fes- 
tival and trade shows. "About half are student 
films and the other half are professional, but the 
professional work is much harder to find," she 
says. 

At American Playhouse, manager of program 
development Nicholas Gottlieb is aggressively 
looking for short films and new filmmakers but 
will not accept submissions. American Playhouse, 
the only regular outlet on PBS for dramatic work 
by independents, picks up shorts to complement 
its feature presentations. He agrees that quality 
shorts are hard to find, but not just for American 
Playhouse. Sometimes when a short film airs on 
American Playhouse, the phones ring from public 
television stations across the country, all desper- 
ate for quality fillers. 

Filmmakers, of course, view things a little 
differently. But in order to get their shorts noticed 
by the gatekeepers, they must utilize tried and true 
methods, like the film festival circuit, and devise 
new strategies. And even if their shorts produce 
little financial return, the films can often result in 
contacts, exposure, and future gigs. As a result, 
most feel that they haven't been short-changed by 
directing short films. 

Rick Hayes got his short Happy Birthday. 
Bobby Dietz onto the domestic and international 
festival circuit. A Loyola Marymount student 
thesis film about a sweet boy's bully brother 
terrorizing his birthday party, Happy Birthday. 
Bobby Dietz received awards at festivals in Chi- 
cago, Houston, and Sydney and generally enthu- 
siastic notices. It is now in the FoSF package. The 
film eventually helped Hayes get an agent, a 
Directors Guild of America screening, some strong 



contacts, and his current editing job on an inde- 
pendent feature. 

John Starr and Roger Teich's 10-minute black 
and white documentary Stealing Altitude, about 
illegal base jumpers (urban parachutists who leap 
from tall buildings in the wee hours), was a 
University of Southern California thesis film. 
Starr got it into 30 to 40 festivals, including this 
year's Sundance. It, too, is included in FoSF. Starr 
is currently working on a feature-length color 
documentary on the same subject. "I don't expect 
to make any more shorts," he says. "I believe in 
reaching a larger audience with feature-length 
films." 

The Water Man, an allegorical tale of the earth 
and its regeneration based in part on a Greek myth, 
won the jury award at the New York Expo of Short 
Film and Video in 1990 and awards at several 
other international festivals. It had pretty much 
run its course on the festival circuit by the fall of 
1991, according to director Robert Castle. So 
Castle and two other University of California-Los 
Angeles filmmakers put together an industry 
screening in Los Angeles. Having tried unsuc- 
cessfully to get the screening subsidized by some 
major studios, Castle and his colleagues finally 
found one executive who wrote a personal check 
to cover the advertising, mailings, and catering for 
the two screenings. Castle says that all the effort 
and the awards have allowed him to develop 
professional relationships at various studios, and 
several of his scripts are under consideration. 

Los Angeles artist Denise Prince devised a 
direct-to-the-consumer private screening room 
for her seven-minute film Lick, described by the 
director as a "dead girl's anxiety dream" about a 
girl, a dog, and music. She took a coin-operated 
instant photo booth and transformed it into a one- 
person film theater. Lick debuted in the photo 
booth at a Hollywood tatoo parlor, where the 
owner agreed to park it for 50 percent of the profit. 
It's now at an expresso bar, Pick Me Up, in Los 
Angeles. There's no word yet on whether Prince 
got any meetings out of either deal. 

Eileen Wilkinson is a freelance writer living in 
Los Angeles. 



20 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



EIGHT IS ENOUGH 
United States Super 8 Film and Vide tstival 



J. CRAIG SHEARMAN 



Filled with colorized, solarized, and reversed- 
polarity images, Soma Sema looks like a demo 
piece for the popular Video Toaster system. But 
the experimental film by Bradley Eros and Jeanne 
Liotta of Brooklyn, New York, is no high-tech 
marvel featuring the latest video gizmos. It was 
shot on a budget of a few hundred dollars and in a 
film format all but forgotten by most indepen- 
dents today — super 8. "That was the amazing 
thing," Eros says. "People would say, 'That was 
super 8?'" 




Walter Van Egidy's homage to B-movie horror, 

Indian Summer, took second place at the 

Rutgers festival. On shooting on super 8, Von 

Egidy explains, "It's the only way I can own all 

my equipment and operate truly 

independently." 

Courtesy filmmaker 



Soma Sema was the grand-prize winner at the 
1992 United States Super 8 Film and Video Fes- 
tival, held February 7 at Rutgers University in 
New Brunswick, New Jersey. Sponsored by the 
Rutgers Film Co-op, the festival proclaims itself 
the last national, competitive film festival that 
accepts only works shot on super 8. 

A total of 75 entries, ranging from a 30-second 
PSA to a handful of full-length features, were 
submitted this year — the festival's fourth — and a 
dozen were selected for screening before a stand- 
ing-room-only audience of more than 200. The 
number of entries was up from 55 in 1991 and 40 
in 1990. Festival director Al Nigrin says that 
proves that super 8 — while far from its popularity 
of the late 1970s — is not a dead medium. Nigrin 
acknowledges, though, that super 8 has been 
largely forgotten in the past decade's rush to video 
and needs help to stay alive. 



"The idea is to make sure the little guy doesn't 
get forgotten," he says of the festival. "I like to use 
the metaphor of finding homes for stray cats. It's 
a lot like finding a home for these films to make 
sure they get screened, because they're the ones 
that are the least diluted by committees and per- 
haps the most personal of all film gauges." 

Dozens of festivals once catered to super 8, but 
the last major festival to remain exclusively super 
8, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, opened its doors 
to video in 1 989. Super 8 is still shown at a variety 
of locations — the annual invitational festival called 
Old and New Masters of Super 8 was held for its 
fourth year at Anthology Film Archives in New 
York City in March — but Nigrin says his is the 
only juried, competitive festival for films from 
across the country. 

Once embraced by documentary and narrative 
filmmakers as a low-cost alternative to 16mm, 
super 8 had its heyday in the late 1 970s. Manufac- 
turers offered super 8 filmmakers crystal sync, 
fullcoat, upright and flatbed editing tables, and a 
variety of filmstocks, while labs offered A and B 
roll printing, liquid-gate optical printing, and vir- 
tually all the services available in 16mm. Televi- 
sion networks and local stations experimented 
with super 8 — many PBS affiliates used it regu- 
larly for documentaries — and numerous universi- 
ties adopted it as a training medium for film 
students. 

The low costs that encouraged filmmakers to 
choose super 8 over 16mm were made possible, 
however, by the mass production of equipment 
and film stock for the home movie market. With 
the explosion of video in the early 1 980s, super 8 
was dealt its death blow just as it was beginning to 
follow the transition to professional acceptance 
that 16mm had found after World War II. 

Toni Treadway, codirectorof the International 
Center for 8mm Film and Video in Rowley, Mas- 
sachusetts, estimates that serious filmmakers make 
up 20 percent or more of the users of super 8 today , 
compared with about 2 percent in the mid-seven- 
ties. Home movie makers still account for the 
remaining 80 percent of users, but serious film- 
makers appear to now equal or exceed home 
movie buffs in terms of the number of rolls of 
stock sold. A Kodak survey conducted about two 
years ago had similar findings, but actual sales 
figures have not been released. 

Super 8 has seen a recent resurgence in popu- 
larity in a number of MTV music videos, includ- 
ing at least one by Paula Abdul, the Prince movie 



MAY 1992 



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Purple Rain, and Coors beer commercials recall- 
ing the 1970s. 

Nigrin says the format has largely become the 
domain of visual artists, however. Of the 12 films 
at this year's festival, there were two straight 
narrative works, two documentaries, one MTV- 
style music video, and an anti-war PSA. The 
remainder were clearly experimental. 

"Artists have now turned to super 8 as another 
viable means of visual communications so they 
can get a really high resolution image and better 
quality than any small-gauge video format." Nigrin 
says. The same economy of film and equipment 
costs that made super 8 popular in the 1970s 
continues to make it attractive, he notes. Ten 
minutes of super 8 costs S60 to S80, compared 
with S300 for an 11 -minute roll of 16mm pro- 
cessed, workprinted, and transferred to fullcoat. A 
top-of-the-line Beaulieu camera package sells for 
S5.000, but countless cameras can be found at flea 
markets and rummage sales for SI 00 or less. 

"You can shoot your own, and you can cut your 
own, and that's important," Nigrin says. "Usually 
with video, if you shoot on Betacam you have to 
go to an on-line facility and spend countless 
thousands of dollars editing in a place where 
you're not comfortable. With super 8, you can 
take the stuff home and do it yourself." 

Eros and Liotta agree. "We've always had 
super 8. and it's something where we could afford 
to make films for one- or two-hundred dollars," 
Eros says. "We have the equipment to do that at 
home, where with 16mm. that was another whole 
level of involvement." 

The small size of super 8 equipment and the 
physical and visual properties of film over video- 
tape are also important factors in choosing the 
medium, the filmmaking team say. "There's an 
intimacy that's a historical part of super 8 that's as 
intimate as one's home, one's bedroom, one's 
lovers, and one's closest friends." Eros says, not- 
ing that he and Liotta shot each other, without a 
crew, for the nude scenes in Soma Sema. 

"For us, it has a draw in that it's something an 
individual can handle." he adds. "That's what 
makes it a material in a way that video is not a 
material," Liotta says. "It's not something tan- 
gible like film is." 

The 13-minute Soma Sema begins with a 
mummy in a field — Liotta — with only its hands 
free to beckon the viewer nearer. Scenes of a 
naked woman, a burning doorway, and a knife 
cutting away at the mummy's shroud follow, 
along with scenes of hieroglyphics and a burning 
skull. While the experimental work has no dis- 
cernible plot, Eros says it shows "a way of think- 
ing about the body as a divine vessel." 

The film includes a variety of visual effects 
most often associated w ith high-tech video gear or 
complicated optical printing. Instead. Eros and 
Liotta did the effects at home, some by transfer- 
ring the original super 8 footage to video using a 
home-video camera with a simple negative-posi- 
tive switch. The signal was then fed to a monitor, 
where ordinary hue and tint controls were used to 



22 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 




alter the image while the screen was rephoto- 
graphed with a super 8 camera. 

Nigrin says he considers works that are shot on 
super 8 but manipulated or even completely ed- 
ited on video to still be super 8. Some super 8 
purists disagree, but Nigrin points out that video 
has opened up a new world for super 8, particu- 
larly in the ease of distribution on VHS videocas- 
sette. "You can use the advantages of both medi- 
ums so that there ' s a kind of hybrid art created," he 
says. "It's not limited to just production/post- 
production, but even distribution. You don't have 
to make 10 print copies of a 10-minute super 8 
film that will cost you $2,000 anymore. You can 
make the same 10 copies of your super 8 film on 
half-inch video for less than $100. You're talking 
a 2,000 percent savings, and it means you can get 
your work out there that much more readily." 

About 80 percent of the 75 entries in this year's 
festival were submitted as video copies, and nine 
of the 12 finalists were projected from three- 
quarter-inch videocassettes. Two films, including 
Soma Sema, were shown from 16mm blowups. 
Only one, an 11 -minute abstract trip across a 
covered bridge called Light Rhythms, by James 
HarrarofPipersville, Pennsylvania, was projected 
directly from super 8. It won third place. 

Other filmmakers whose works were shown at 
the festival agreed that both economy and aesthet- 
ics led to their choice of super 8 over video or 
larger film formats. "It's definitely the afforda- 
bility," says Walter Von Egidy of New Milford, 
Connecticutt, whose 18-minute Indian Summer 
took second place. "It ' s the only way I can own all 
my own equipment and operate truly indepen- 
dently," explains Von Egidy, a sign painter who 
finances his films out of his own pocket. "As far 
as film versus video goes, the editing system for 
video would be pretty expensive, and video is a 
medium that has its own set of aesthetics that are 
really completely different from film." 



For their experimental short Soma Sema, grand- 
prize winners Bradley Eros and Jeanne Liotta 
employed a range of special effects while limiting 
their budget to a few hundred dollars. 

Courtesy filmmakers 



Indian Summer copies the style of B horror 
movies of the 1950s. Mad scientist Dave Keller 
works in a university laboratory where the brain of 
his former lover and colleague Evelyn Sorak is 
suspended in a green fluid inside an aquarium, 
connected to a hodgepodge of electronic equip- 
ment. As Keller pores through Sorak's journals 
and talks to her portrait in an attempt to find a way 
to restore her to life, student Tinka is sent to be his 
assistant in a desperate attempt by the dean to save 
her from the evils of peace-sign-waving hippies. 
Needless to say, she soon becomes the subject of 
a brain transplant operation. 

"I like the concept of how super 8 is an acces- 
sible film to work with," says Laura Clemmons, a 
former Seattle resident now living in New York 
who made A Dream about War. "Even though it's 
so simple and looked down upon by so many 
people in the industry, I look beyond that," she 
says. "There is still so much of an art to it. I get 
very excited about the graininess and transfer a lot 
of it in slow motion. I play a lot with the movement 
of the film and the camera in a certain space. The 
graininess of the film achieves a sort of painterly 
effect at times. It also allows you to have a lot of 
freedom and play in that it's not as expensive as 
16mm or 35mm, where you always have to think, 
'Oh, my God, I have to work within the budget.'" 

A Dream about War is based on found footage 
shot in Vietnam around 1968. An American sol- 
dier posing at the door of a Huey helicopter with 
a Vietnamese woman is intercut with home mov- 
ies of a baby, current footage of an airplane 
overhead, and period stills, ranging from combat 
scenes to Lyndon Johnson looking out the win- 
dows of the Oval Office. The audio consists 
largely of sound bites of people talking about the 
war, many of them taken from the Larry King 
radio talk show. 

While Clemmons has found some paying work 
shooting music videos for Seattle bands in super 
8, and Eros and Liotta combine super 8 with their 
work as performance artists, few filmmakers ap- 
pear to be making a full-time living in super 8. 
Von Egidy and others say they hope the festival 
will help change that. Nigrin would eventually 
like to expand the one-night festival into a week- 
end-long event that would attempt to pair up 
filmmakers with distributors. 

"Our goal is to become an international festi- 
val," he says. "What is the future of super 8? How 
long will we continue to do this? I plan on continu- 
ing until we see a real drop-off in entries, and we 
haven't seen that. You don't stop a good thing." 

J. Craig Shearman, a former reporter for United 
Press International, is a filmmaker who has 
sometimes worked in super 8. 



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THE INDEPENDENT 23 



Sunday in the Park with Bill 

William Greaves' Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One 



SCOTT MACDONALD 



I ERHAPS THE MOST NOTABLE EVENT IN AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILM Dl R- 
ing 1991 was the reemergence of William Greaves' 1968 feature. Symbio- 
psyehotaxiplasm: Take One. which premiered at the Brooklyn Museum in 
April as part of a Greaves retrospective. Greaves* fascinating and amusing 
critique of cinema verite is notew orthy not only in itself, but as still another 
accomplishment from a man whose name should be a household w ord. at 
least for those who consider themselves savvy about modern film history. 
(I say "should be" because currently Greaves is not profiled in any of the 
major popular film encyclopedias, including Donald Bogle's Blacks in 
American Film and Television). 

Originally a distinguished stage actor and acting teacher (in 1980. he 
shared the Actors Studio's first Dusa Award with Robert De Niro. Jane 
Fonda. Marlon Brando. Sally Field. Rod Steiger. Dustin Hoffman, and 
others). Greaves had major roles in several black-directed/black-cast films 
of the late forties, including Herald Pictures' Miracle in Harlem (1948. 
directed by Jack Kemp, w ith Greaves and Sheila Guyse as romantic leads 
and Stepin Fetchit as comic relief) and as co-star in Powell Lindsay's Souls 
of Sin ( 1 949). and he w as effective in a featured role in Louis de Rochemont's 
Lost Boundaries (1949) starring Mel Ferrer, one of the "problem pictures" 
that focused on the struggles of African Americans in the US after World W 
ar II (others were Home of the Brave. Pinky, and Intruder in the Dust, all 
released the same year). 

Partially as a result of his contact w ith de Rochemont. Greaves became 
interested in documentary and feature filmmaking. From 1952 until 1960. 
he worked at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in a variety of 
capacities on roughly 80 films, and he was part of NFB's Unit B. which 
launched the first cinema verite productions in North America. Greaves 
then returned to the US w here he began to produce and direct what was to 
become an immense body of documentary film, primarily for the US 
government and public television. Titles include //; the Company of Men 
( 1 969). From These Roots (1974), Booker T. Washington: The Life and the 
Legacy ( 1982 ). Frederick Douglas: An American Life ( 1 984). That's Black 
Entertainment ( 1 989). and Ida B. Wells: A PassionforJustice ( 1 989). From 
1968 to 1970 Greaves was executive producer and co-host of NET's 
pioneering. Emmy-winning public affairs series Black Journal. And he has 
produced several theatrical features. He directed AH, the Fighter ( 1 97 1 ). a 
"docutainment" feature on the first Ali-Frazier fight: he co-wrote, directed. 
and executive produced The Marijuana Affair (1973) and was executive 
producer for Universal Pictures' hit Bustin' Loose (1981), with Cicely 
Tyson and Richard Pryor. 

Probably none of Greaves' films equals Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 
One's in\ entiveness or has more successfully integrated his skills as actor, 
teacher of actors, and director. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm uses a screen test 
involving an argument betw een a married couple — she complains about his 
pressuring her to have "abortion after abortion" and charges that he's 



become a homosexual: he temporizes and denies — as a pretext for an 
exploration of the filmmaking process. Greaves had the crew filming not 
only the actors doing the scene, but themselves filming it, as well as the 
larger context that surrounded the shoot in Central Park. In the finished film. 
Greaves moves viewers back and forth from level to level of the production. 
Each level has its own dramatic interest. At times, we're drawn into the 
scene by the skill of the actors (Patricia Ree Gilbert, Don Fellow s): in other 
instances, attention is focused on the work of the crew : and periodically. 
Greaves uses a double or triple image so that we see various levels of the 
production simultaneously. The crew becomes so frustrated by what they 
consider Greaves' inept direction that, unknown to the director, they meet 
to discuss the situation and film their discussion. And the entire shoot is 
regularly interrupted by the police, by onlookers, and. at the end. by a funny. 
eloquent, loony homeless alcoholic who is instinctively as in tune with the 
production as are most of the crew. 

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One was filmed on the assumption that, 
ultimately, five separate features — Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take Two. 
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take Three, etc. — would result from the shoot, 
each with a different couple enacting the same scene. But because of 
funding problems, only Take One was completed, and money ran out before 
the 35mm blowup with special optical effects could be struck. Finally, in 
1971 there was a film to show, but after a few screenings for befuddled 
distributors — none to the public — the film was shelved. During the past few 
months, it has been widely seen at festivals and museums. 

The follow ing interview^ has an unusual form. It began w ith my transcrib- 
ing and editing the audience discussion with Greaves that followed the 
presentation of Symbiopsychotaxiplasm at the 1991 Robert Flaherty Semi- 
nar. This was supplemented by a second discussion between Greaves and 
me at his New York apartment in November. In the interview, the two 
discussions are treated as one. 

• • • 

Bill Sloan (chief, circulating film and video library. Museum of Modern 
Art): I've probably known Bill Greaves longer than anyone in this room. In 
fact. I saw the film when it was still in a rough cut back in the sixties, and 
I've seen it several times since. Bill has been making films longer than any- 
other contemporary African American filmmaker. He couldn ' t get anything 
started in this country because of the racism that was so rampant in the 
fifties, but he w as able to get a job at the National Film Board of Canada and 
in 1957 shot Emergency Ward, one of the first cinema verite films ever 
made — years before Leacock. the Maysles. and Pennebaker w ere doing that 
sort of thing. But to stop mid-career and make a film like this was really quite 
astounding. Bill, what possessed you? 

William Greaves: There were several different factors. I'd been a member 
of the Actors Studio since 1949. As a result, the Stanislavski System, the 
Method. Strasberg. that whole approach to theater and acting, translated into 
my film work. After awhile, I began teaching actors in Canada. One of my 
actors. Manny Melamed, was extremely adroit at business ventures and 
became very wealthy. He w anted me to make a feature and said. "Anything 



24 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



you want to make, just tell me." I began to think about a way I could put 
together a feature using some of the actors from the Actors Studio and my 
own acting studio. 

A whole range of other interests were involved too. The term 
"symbiopsychotaxiplasm" is a take-off on "symbiotaxiplasm," a concept 
developed by philosopher/social scientist Arthur Bentley — a contemporary 
of John Dewey — in his terrific book An Inquiry into Inquiries. Bentley 
explored how various social scientists went about the business of conceiv- 



ing and perceiving "civilization'* and "society." The term "symbiotaxiplasm" 
referred to all those objects and events that transpire in any given environ- 
ment on which human beings impact and which in turn impact on human 
beings in any way. Of course, the most elaborate example of such a cosmic 



Bill Greaves (seated) in Central Park filming 
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One. 



All photos courtesy filmmaker 




MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 25 



1 was insisting that this scene 
would be done by the cast and 
crew, even though it was making 
them, very unhappy. The question 
was, "When will they revolt?" 



dialogue or symbiotaxiplasm would be a city like New York. I had the 
audacity to put the word "psycho" into the middle of Bentley's term. I felt 
the longer term was more appropriate to my idea, which was to focus more 
acutel) on the role that psychology and creativity play when a group of 
people come together and function as a creative entity charged with the 
responsibility of making a film. 

1 added the phrase "take one" because the plan w as to make acycle of five 
symbiopsychotaxiplasms out of the original 70 hours of shooting. But we 
couldn't e\en get the first one off the ground and into distribution, so we 
never developed the others. 

Scott MacDonald: Did you shoot all the material you had planned to shoot 
for all fi\ e "takes" and edit just one? 

WG: Yes. 

SM: If you had the money, would you finish the other four takes? 

WG: Oh yes. I'd love to. We've got great stuff, including, by the way, 
some wonderful material w ith Susan Anspach. Susan and Johnny Diamond 
were directed to sing some of their lines semi-operatically. The interracial 
couple dealt w ith the scene as a psychodrama. We drew on the works of Dr. 
J.L. Moreno, a student of Freud, who created psychodrama and brought it 
to this country. He conceived of psychodrama as a psychotherapeutic tool, 
as a way of accessing and expressing the subconscious through dramatic 
action on a stage. We had a psychodramatist. Marcia Karp. who had been 
trained by Moreno, come onto the location and w ork with the actors. Then 
there are two other straight-ahead efforts by actors not as experienced as Pat 
and Don w ere. The movie has this curious variation on the theme of marital 
discord, in addition to the other continuing drama of the crew critiquing 
what was going on. 

SM: Is there much more material of the crew meeting among themselves 
and responding to the project? 

WG: Oh yes. plenty of the "closet revolt." but not as much as I originally 
thought I w ould get on the actual set. I had thought the crew w ould challenge 
me on camera, and that conflict w ould be central to the drama of the film. 
My thinking was that if I made the crew sufficiently angry by resorting to 
certain types of redundancies and other irritants, they would begin saying. 
"What the hell's going on? Why are you doing this? What's this all about?" 
They'd rebel. But they didn't do that, and it was a source of frustration and 
depression for me during the shooting. 

Similarly. I thought that the actors would periodically have trouble with 
their roles, their lines, or with me. and that we'd get into these debates over 
a particular psychological adjustment or motivation. But the actors and the 
crew were much too professional. They felt they couldn't cross that 
boundary: they couldn't openly confront the director, who is usually- 
thought of as God on the set. 

SM: There's a difference though, in that the crew sneaks away to have their 
own discussion about you and then presents you with it. while the actors 
seem to assume that whatever is going wrong is because they're not good 
enough. 

WG: Well, actors tend to be like that. They are such an oppressed, desperate 

26 THE INDEPENDENT 



community. They have so few opportunities to work that the last thing an 
actor wants to do is get a reputation for being difficult. Brando had that 
problem years ago. He became a persona non grata throughout Broadway, 
and the only director who protected him was Kazan. 

So I didn't get what I wanted, except for that moment towards the end 
where I say. "Cut it!" and Pat says, "This is not working out," and I say, 
"Yes, it is," and she yells, "It's not and you know it!" I thought, "Oh boy. here 
it comes." Pat had this radar going. She intuited when something was 
truthful and when it wasn't. I figured that once she decided to confront me. 
she'd pull out all the stops. And I assumed that the crew would catch the 
whole encounter on film. Well, by that time the crew was so pissed off with 
me that they'd become sloppy; so. wouldn't you know, just at that moment 
they hadn't loaded any extra magazines for the film in the fucking cameras. 
So when I walked across the bridge after Pat. they didn't follow. And once 
they were loaded, they felt it was too private a moment to interrupt! They 
fell back into the social convention of not invading our privacy. 

Michelle Materre (associate director, Women Make Movies): You must 
have had your ego in such a great place to be able to allow the crew to think 
about you the way they must have. 

WG: It was a calculated risk. It's true, my livelihood depends on my being 
perceived as a good director, and yet, for this particular film to work, a 
flawed, vulnerable persona was essential. I must say I feel very good about 
my relationship with the crew. Even when they spoke about me at their 
meeting, it wasn't in anger. They were somewhat like Pirandello's Six 
Characters in Search of an Author, or like the characters in Outward Bound, 
a play I had a role in w hen I first started acting, where everybody is on a ship 
but no one knows why or where they're going (actually, they've just died 
and are being carted away). It was so wonderful of the crew to come on board 
this project and work so hard even though they didn't know where the film 
was going. 

Richard Herskowitz (director, Cornell Cinema): Symbiopsychotaxiplasm 
is a missing link in sixties film history, and I think articles and books written 
about that period, like David James' Allegories of Cinema, ought to be 
recalled for repairs. I do wonder about the film in the context of your career. 
What led up to it. and how did it inform things you made after it? 

WG: Bill Sloan mentioned my relationship with the National Film Board. 
I was in the unit that pioneered cinema verite on the North American 
continent. Terry Filgate (the English cameraman with dark glasses in 
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm) and I were together at the NFB in what was called 
Unit B. The unit did films like Lonely Boy ( 1961 ). Blood and Fire (1958), 
and. as Bill Sloan said. I did Emergency Ward. The process of learning to 
do that kind of shooting made me very attuned to the capturing of sponta- 
neous reality. That laid the groundwork for this film, of course, coupled with 
my work at the Actors Studio. 

But I should tell you some of the other thinking that I had in mind while 
making Symbiopsychotaxiplasm. I went to Stuyvesant. a science high 
school in New York City, and was pointed in the direction of a career in 
science. I broke off from that path in college, but I continued to be interested 
in various scientific theories. The Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty, in 
particular, fascinated me. Heisenberg asserts that we'll never really know 

MAY 1992 



Don Fellows and Patricia Ree 

Gilbert play a married couple 

whose argument serves as the 

pretext for a brash display of 

Cassavetian improvisation. 



the true basis of the cosmos, because 
the means of perception — the electron 
microscope — alters the reality it ob- 
serves. It sends out abeam of electrons 
that knocks the electrons of the atoms 
being observed out of their orbits. I 
began to think of the movie camera as 
an analog to the microscope. The real- 
ity to be observed is the human soul, 
the mind, the psyche. Of course, as the 
camera investigates that part of the 
cosmos, the individual soul or psyche 
being observed recoils from the intrusion. On-camera behavior becomes 
structured in a way other than it would have been had it been unperceived — 
a psychological version of the Heisenberg Principle. In this sense, Symbio- 
psychotaxiplasm was — in my mind, at least — an environment in which 
movie cameras were set up in an attempt to catch, unperceived by the 
subjects, the process of human spontaneous response and action. 

Another scientific theory that interested me was the Second Law of 
Thermodynamics, which describes the flow and distribution of energy in 
any given system. In Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, the cameras track the flow of 
energy in the social system I had devised. If the cameras focused on one 
person and the energy level of spontaneous reality began to decline as a 
result of their being under observation, that energy would shift and show up 
somewhere else — behind the cameras or among the bystanders, for ex- 
ample. 

Alan Rosenthal (writer, director): Did you look at the rushes in between the 
filming, or did you just continue shooting? 

WG: Well, we had to look at the rushes to see whether we were getting 
things on film, but I didn't see the rushes of the crew at their meeting until 
after the shooting was over, and Bob Rosen said, "Bill, we have a little 
present for you" (audience laughs). 

Patricia Zimmermann (professor of film, Ithaca College): There's a long 
history of self-reflexive filming as a political intervention to disengage the 
traditional power of the director and to make way for more Utopian ways of 
working — Vertov, Godard, Makavejev.... One scene in your film seems to 
encapsulate this: the scene where you're sitting on the grass with your 
multiracial, mixed-gender crew. And you're an African American director. 
Could you situate your method within the politics of the time? 

WG: Well, clearly we were working in a context of the urban disorders of 
the sixties and the rage of the African American community against the 
tyranny and the racism of the American body politic. There was that general 
social background, plus the more specific struggles: the civil rights marches, 
the whole Vietnam War problem, police repression and the growing dissent 
over it. There was the emerging feminist movement. The 1968 Chicago 
convention would soon explode. And Woodstock. Among young adults, 
there was an unhappiness of massive dimensions over the way in which 
society had been run and the covert authoritarianism that was becoming 
everywhere evident. 

This film was an attempt to look at the impulses, the inspirations of a 




group of creative people who, during the making of the film, were being 
pushed to the wall by the process I, as director, had instigated. The scene that 
I had written was fixed, and I was in charge. I was insisting that this scene 
would be done by the cast and crew, even though it was making them very 
unhappy. The questions were, "When will they revolt? When would they 
question the validity, the wisdom, of doing the scene in the first place?" In 
this sense, it was a metaphor of the politics of the time. 

John Columbus (director. Black Maria Film Festival): Did you expect a 
counterculture audience for the film? Or did you hope for distribution 
through commercial theaters? 

WG: When we first had a blowup, we showed it to a couple of small 
commercial distributors, and their eyeballs just went around in their sockets. 
They just couldn't figure out how to categorize and package it. That may still 
be a problem. One of the critics from Time had come by my studio in the 
sixties and said, "Gee, this thing is not going to be acceptable for 20 years." 
I think the film will now make its way at least into art theaters and through 
the college circuit and to whatever film societies are out there. Hopefully it 
will get wider consumption in the twenty-first century because of its 
revolutionary aesthetic and its increasing archival value; there were few 
films made in the sixties that so effectively tracked the psychological and 
emotional mechanisms of young people. 

SM: Nowadays, the scene you wrote is a little shocking because abortion is 
rarely dealt with so directly . I don ' t remember ever seeing characters debate 
the issue in a film. And I don't remember such scenes in the sixties, either. 
How did you decide on the topics of abortion and homosexuality? 

WG: Well, it was complicated. Abortion as an issue was just emerging 
because the women's movement was fledgling. For me, abortion also had 
a kind of political significance — it was a metaphor for the Vietnam War, for 
the problems it created, the napalming of villages and all of that. Of course, 
it also related to the more local, conventional concerns of women to have the 
right to control their bodies. It's interesting because she wants the life, he 
does not, whereas, in Roe v. Wade, it's more an issue of a woman having the 
right to say she doesn't want this life. What I like about the scene today is 
that it prevents the film from seeming like advocacy; it doesn't take sides in 
a particular issue. It creates an interesting tension. 

SM: At one point, I thought you were indirectly using homosexuality and 
abortion as metaphors for the idea that this particular film is not what 



MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 27 






Ihe film had to be chaos, but 
chaos of a very special 
character: intelligible chaos. 



Hulls wood would consider a creation, that the industry would consider 
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm an "abortion." a "perversion." 

\VG: That's interesting, but for me the homosexuality was more involved 
w ith the simple fact that people change, people become homosexual and 
people become heterosexual. People have the right to go in whatever 
direction the\ want. 

SM: One of the things I noticed when I looked really carefully at 
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm is that while it has this feeling of informality and 
spontaneits . it's very rigorously composed. 

WG: Well, the finished film did not develop overnight. There was a lot of 
agony in the editing room — a lot. I had 60 or 70 hours of film. I can't tell you 
how many assistant editors I bumed out. The film had to be chaos, but chaos 
of a very special character: intelligible chaos. It had to have a classic flow 
of some kind. It had to hold your attention, even though it was supposed to 
be a lousy film. 

SM: From the opening minutes, it's evident that the film is precise in what 
it does. During the preface, we no sooner start to get engaged in this 
argument about abortion, then you flip to a split-screen image of two 
simultaneous angles on the characters. And the minute we're starting to 
become accustomed to the split-screen, you flip to candid shots of bystand- 
ers observing the shoot. The switch from one level to another in the preface 
sets up the overall rhythm of the film. 

And the following credit sequence confirms the film's precision. You 
move through a whole cycle of life — first we see lovers, then babies, then 
growing children, then adults — while a sound that was identified as an error 
during the preface gets louder and louder, so we know that if it was an error 
then, it sure as hell is conscious now. The first time we see you in the film, 
you're listening to the sound and saying. "This is terrible, this is terrible." 
but you don't look like you feel it's terrible — you look amused. It's a kind 
of foreshadowing, as is your statement a moment later, "Don't take me 
seriously." 

WG: I was very happy with the fact that there was error and confusion. If 
you notice me with Victor, the homeless guy at the end. I have the same kind 
of private smile. That feeling comes out of the fact that the thing was going 
my way: There was confusion, or conflict, or some new unpremeditated 
development that was important for the life and success of the film. 

On a second level. I wanted to harness the paradox of creating out of 
failure, of using failure and error and confusion and chaos and unhappiness 
and conflict. You are drawn inexorably through this cosmic flux. At the end 
you say. "Wait a minute, what was that all about, and why was I so transfixed 
by it?" Well, life is like that, it keeps you totally absorbed from moment to 
moment, yet often you can't tell what it's about. I like that paradox. 

SM: In the sixties there were a number of different attempts to critique 
cinema verite: Shirley Clarke 'sThe Connection ( 1961). Peter Watkins' The 
U 'ar Game ( 1 965 ) and Punishment Park ( 1 970 ). and Jonas Mekas' The Brig 
( 1 964) are distinguished instances. The one that strikes me as closest to this 
film is Jim McBride's David Holzman's Diaiy (1967), which itself was 
inspired by the work of Andrew Noren. Did you have any contact with 
McBride or Noren. or know if they had contact with your work? 



WG: I've heard of David Holzman's Diary, but I've not seen it. I've been 
involved in making films, and, you know, you stay in the editing room until 
you're exhausted, then you go home and collapse and get up and do it again. 
There was a period in my life when I used to go to the theater a great deal, 
and to the movies. But that stopped after I left Canada in 1960. 

Maria Aqui Carter (associate producer, WGBH, Boston): The issue this 
film raises forme is individual versus collective power. I find that when I'm 
directing a mixed crew, particularly a gender-mixed crew, I have power 
relationship problems because of my race. When you as an African 
American director said in the film, "I represent the establishment," how did 
your crew relate to you? 

WG: I had an excellent relationship with the people on the crew. Again, you 
have to think in terms of the sixties, when there was a breaking out of a whole 
lot of ossified thinking. The people who worked on Symbiopsychotaxiplasm 
were Age of Aquarius people who were in many respects shorn of the racist 
encumbrances that many white Americans are burdened with. They had a 
very collaborationist approach. 

Steve Gallagher (programmer, producer, distributor): What was the reac- 
tion of the cast and crew when they saw the film? 

WG: Only three or four of them have seen it. Bob Rosen saw it, and he 
reacted the same way Muhammad Ali did to the film I made about him. That 
film was shot cinema verite, too, and while we were filming, Ali wouldn't 
cooperate at first, for legal and other reasons, I suppose. He forgot that he 
had signed a contract for me to shoot the film (this was the period of the first 
Joe Frazier fight). So we used telephoto lenses, hidden mikes, and so on. 
About a year later, after the fight was over and the film was finished, I got 
a call from Ali saying, "Listen, I want to see that film you did." So we set 
up a screening for him, and he sat in the theater saying, "How did you get 
this shot? How did you do that'V Rosen's reaction was similar: I don't think 
he anticipated the film that he saw. I think (I hope) he was surprised in a 
pleasant way. 

John Columbus: Today some people might be a little troubled by the way 
the homeless man who walks into the shoot near the end is handled. Did you 
have mixed feelings then or do you now about that scene? 

WG: We were confronted with that individual, and we said, "Do we want 
to let this survive as a sequence or not?" We made the determination on the 
set that we were going to go with this thing because, though it was 
spontaneously intrusive, it was reality — and reality was what the film was 
all about. We decided to stay open to it. and I'm so glad we did. As you saw, 
we did take the precaution of getting the guy to sign a release. We certainly 
recognized that he was drunk and homeless, but in his confrontational 
nature, he articulated what I was trying to get at in the film. That's what I 
meant earlier when I said there was a mystical element to the film. Over the 
years, this drunken character has been in different sections of the film, but 
he works best at the very end: You can't go beyond that level of truth. 

Barbara Abrash (independent producer): I was so thrilled with this film 
that I was filled with regret that you weren't able to continue making feature 
films. 



28 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 




With camera rolling, the crew secretly 
meets to debate Greaves' perceived 
ineptitude versus his hidden strategy. 



WG: Me too! 

Abrash: But now a time may be coming when you'll have an opportunity. 
Could you talk about what we might expect if you were to make an 
independent feature now? Would there be a continuity with Symbio- 
psychotaxiplasm ? 

WG: To make a film like this one today would cost a lot of money. And I 
wouldn't be as free in using the kinds of approaches that we used then. I 
wouldn't say I was young and foolish, but my thinking now would be 
structured by the need for the production to be both artistically and 
commercially valid. When I made Symbiopsychotaxiplasnu I didn't care 
whether it was commercial. I had carte blanche from Manny Melamed, my 
backer. But today, I would have to consider whether this thing would work 
in a commercial context. One has to pay the bills, the rent, and one's debts. 

Lise Yasui (filmmaker): You've got such a long track record now, and in 
documentary /nonfiction funding, a track record is everything. Do you really 
think that if you wanted to do a film that was innovative in form, you 
wouldn't have the opportunity? 

WG: Well, I do experiment up to the limitations of the economics and the 
subject matter of the film. You see that experimentation in most of my 
documentary films. 

SM: Which of your other films do you see as particularly experimental? 

WG: The film I did in Africa called The First World Festival of Negro Arts 
(1966) is experimental in the sense that it uses poetry in conjunction with 
cinema verite in an unusual formulation. We also used a lot of Eisensteinian 
montage. 

From These Roots (1974) is all still photographs. To make a documentary 
that was dramatic in its impact with only still photographs and sound was 
experimental then. Today you have The Civil War and so on. Ida B. Wells: 
A Passion for Justice (1989), which also came out before The Civil War, 
combined sound effects, still photographs, and interviews overlaid with 
graphics. I think that film was innovative. 

And the film about Ali was experimental in the sense that it was shot all 
cinema verite, but has a progressive, dramatic story line. Certainly the 
chronology of the event itself was helpful — the events leading up to and 
including the fight between Ali and Frazier. But apart from that there was 
character delineation and a development of dramatic themes. Up to that 
point in American filmmaking I don't know if there were any films that used 



cinema verite in such a dramatic way. I could be wrong, of course; I'm 
looking at this through my own tunnel vision. 

You know, that film became the basis for Rocky. If you analyze Rocky, 
you'll realize that Rocky is a white Joe Frazier; as a matter of fact, Joe 
actually worked in a Philadelphia meat factory. Joe Frazier was in my 
apartment about four months ago, and he wondered if they ripped him off, 
because they seemed to use his public persona as the basis for the Rocky 
character and Muhammad Ali as the basis for Apollo Creed. They even 
purchased sequences from our film to put into the first Rocky. Some of the 
crowd scenes in Rocky are our footage. The Raging Bull people also studied 
our film. There are echoes of our way of shooting in both films. Ali, the 
Fighter was an experiment that went on to become conventional. 

SM: Somebody told me you worked with Oscar Micheaux. 

WG: No, no (laughs). But I love the mystique that goes with that. I did see 
Micheaux when I was a small boy on the streets of Harlem. I'd see him 
carrying equipment or a film can. I worked for William Alexander. He gave 
me my first major role in a feature film, starring Joe Louis as a matter of fact. 
And as a black filmmaker, he was a role model for me. Alexander was the 
last of that legendary cycle of black producers and directors. He made the 
last black-cast, black-directed film of that historical period, Souls of Sin 
(1949), which I had one of the leads in. 

SM: You're well known as a chronicler of the black experience, both on 
television and in film. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One used four white 
couples and one interracial couple. Were you consciously stepping out of 
your role? 

WG: No. This Chronicler of the Black Experience thing is of recent vintage. 
Obviously, I've always been interested in the black experience. It's one of 
the major reasons why I went into film production in the first place. But I'm 
not a captive of it or neurotically obsessed by it. At the National Film Board 
of Canada I worked on some 80 films, and only one or two that I can recall 
had any black people in them. And I've done a lot of films in this country 
that have nothing to do with the black experience. In the last 20 or so years 
I've been more involved. I was executive producer and co-host of Black 
Journal and worked on a number of films for the show. And some of the 
films I've done for the government have been on the black experience. 

I really don't want to be ghettoized as a black filmmaker. As important 
as it is, and as much as I want to continue to do films on the black experience, 
I also want to be free to do other films. I was talking to a guy yesterday and 
he said, "You know, you should go out to Hollywood and take a black script 
and do this and that...." In a sense, America is trying to force me to be a black 
filmmaker as opposed to a filmmaker who is black. I think it's unfortunate 
that the nature of our society is such that you are constantly being shunted 
into some specialized area or other, rather than being free to let your spirit 
and consciousness roam the cosmos and do whatever the hell you really 
want to do at that particular moment of your inspiration. 

Scoff MacDonald has been conducting interviews with independent 
filmmakers since 1978. His A Critical Cinema appeared in 1988. A Critical 
Cinema 2 will be published in August. 



MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 29 



TALKING HEADS 



ORDER AND OBSESSION 

Alan Berliner on the Making of Intimate Stranger 



GABRIELLA OLDHAM 



July 3, 1986. 3:11 a.m. I lived the process of 
making the film — / was that process.... 

Editors hired to cut directors* visions admit to 
living with the film daily and obsessively, as if it 
were their own. For an editor who is also a 
filmmaker, the obsession is complete. Alan 
Berliner*s life is inseparable from his films and 
vice versa. 



The project became Intimate Stranger, a fea- 
ture-length documentary that premiered at the 
New York Film Festival last September and w ent 
on to Sundance and festivals in Rotterdam. Dal- 
las, and San Francisco, and garnered a special jury 
citation at the Cinema du Reel in Paris. Intimate 
Stranger will air June 22 on P.O.V. and travel to 
Honolulu in July. The film will be paired up with 
The Family Album at the Biograph Theater in 
Washington. DC. in June — a complementary bill- 
ing, as The Family Album takes a sweeping look 
at the American family through anonymous home 




The filmmaker's grandfather Joseph 
Cassuto (standing) and Japanese friends 
on a beach in Alexandria, Egypt, in 
1 93 1 , from Intimate Stranger. 

All illustrations courtesy filmmaker 



I met Berliner in 1989 when interviewing edi- 
tors for my book First Cut: Conversations with 
Film Editors. He had completed The Family Al- 
bum three years earlier and was wrestling w ith the 
concept for a project tentatively titled Unfinished 
Business. At the time, he thought it would be "an 
unusual documentary describing my journey in 
pursuit of why the impact of the hit-and-run car 
accident that killed my grandfather still echoes 1 6 
years later. What about family connectedness 
makes me want to dig so deeply?" 



movies from the 1920s to 1940s, while Intimate 
Stranger focuses on one particular family. 
Berliner's own. 

To make Intimate Stranger. Berliner sifted 
through hundreds of letters and photographs of his 
maternal grandfather. Joseph Cassuto. a Palestin- 
ian Jew raised and educated in Egypt until he 
settled in — but never really adapted to— New 
York City in 1 945 . Cassuto longed for Japan, with 
which he developed an intimate association as a 
result of his cotton-exchange business. The emo- 
tional impact of his divided allegiances between 
work and family are captured in numerous 
voiceovers of family reminiscences, which Ber- 
liner sets against the visual fragments left by his 
grandfather — snapshots, receipts, and letters. 

To recreate the life of this extraordinary '"ordi- 
nary man."" Berliner assumed many roles as film- 



maker. He reflects that in his education at State 
University of New York/Binghamton (B.A.) and 
the University of Oklahoma (M.F.A.). "We [the 
students] did everything." On each independent 
film. Berliner is his own researcher, director, 
cinematographer. and, he continues with only a 
hint of exhaustion, '"narrator, writer, consultant, 
courier, intern, apprentice. Oh yes. and editor." 

Berliner's environment is vital to his work. "I 
need my process to have a certain elegance, inside 
and out." His New York studio is part cutting 
room, part museum/archive. His collection of 
sounds and images is stored in spectral-colored 
boxes spanning one wall like a rainbow . each box 
painstakingly identified in bold, black handwrit- 
ing. Shelves hold files of clippings, correspon- 
dence, and photographs, cross-referenced to the 
envy of any librarian. Berliner's two Emmy awards 
for sound editing on ABC television sports pro- 
grams sit tucked away on high shelves. His 
Steenbeck is surrounded with projects past, present, 
and future: discarded film reels, thousands of 
photographs from the New York Times, boxes of 
1920s and 1930s home movies. Cabinets hold his 
notebooks, where Berliner records technical de- 
tails of filmmaking, and his journals, which chart 
his emotions during the process. The journal "is 
kept just before I go to sleep each night." Berliner 
remarks, "'which can often be as late as 5:30 in the 
morning. It's a release of tension and energy. In 
this journal I celebrate the fact that, ultimately, 
editing is really very mysterious." 

May 2, 1985, 2:10 a.m. Each day I will attempt 
to absorb a little bit more.... Imagine a bird 
building its nest rwigdust by twigdust. 

Berliner uses poetic metaphors to define edit- 
ing. He likens it to chemistry, nutrition, friend- 
ship, stamp-collecting, evolution, mountain-climb- 
ing, and even surgery {June 23, 1986, 3:56 a.m. 1 
opened the patient. I touched the film). Because of 
the voluminous, detailed materials he uses, order 
and organization are imperative. His obsession 
with systematically controlling every step of his 
progress is obvious: "With The Family Album, I 
lost sleep after I locked and mixed the film be- 
cause I felt that one shot was two frames too long. 
And one audio line I felt went on four w ords too 
long." he says. 

The Family Album consists of "found" mate- 
rial — audio recordings and home movies of anony- 
mous families — which explores the range of emo- 
tion and experience in everyone's life, from birth 
to death. Berliner feels that home movies can be 



30 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 




misleading because they often depict an idealized 
family life; audio seems more honest to him. "In 
front of a camera, one thinks, 'How do I look? 
Smile for the camera.' People have different atti- 
tudes about speaking into microphones and re- 
vealing their inner thoughts." Berliner's juxtapo- 
sitions of audio to video create ironic counter- 
points between what is heard and seen, revealing 
what these home documents seem to avoid. 

In one representative juxtaposition, a woman 
in a car smiles for the camera while someone 
else's voiceover says, "I always looked like I was 
happy in public, but it was never like that in the 
home." Berliner comments, "Often the tension 
between image and sound can create the warm 
shock of recognition that if a happy picture is 
worth a thousand words, then some must be tinged 
with dried tears." 

May 4, 1990. Words. Lots of words. That's 
what I have so far. A film of voiceover s and black 
leader. 

I met Berliner again in January of this year to 
talk about his latest film. Unfinished Business had 
become Intimate Stranger. The rainbow- wall held 
more boxes, with many new identifications relat- 
ing to things Japanese. I recalled Berliner's feel- 
ings about the project three years earlier when 
faced with 19 boxes of letters and photographs — 
his grandfather's legacy and the film's founda- 
tion. Berliner did not hesitate to describe his 
frustration in unearthing a structure: "Intimate 
Stranger was a piece of shit for a very long time. 
Ironically, that was as good as it could be at any 
point along the way. It just kept evolving toward 
its final form." 

On the heels of The Family Album, which 
celebrates the American family from birth to 
death, Intimate Stranger measures the sum of one 
person's existence. Cassuto was writing his auto- 
biography when he was killed. The ties between 
him and Berliner were intense: As a child, Ber- 



liner helped his grandfather sort papers, never 
realizing the significance this activity would have 
in later years. His grandfather also introduced him 
to stamp-collecting; Berliner remembers relish- 
ing the hours assembling these exotic images side 
by side. When he acquired his grandfather's 
"boxes" after his death, Berliner became driven to 
order these visual vestiges, juxtapose them with 
taped interviews of his living relatives, and resur- 
rect an interrupted life. But he needed a device to 
structure this accumulating mountain of material. 

"With Intimate Stranger I had home movies, 
archival footage, still photographs, letters, freeze 
frames, slow motion, pixillation, graphic frag- 
ments from academy leaders, footage I shot. Sound 
elements included bells, gongs, beeps, music, 
camera clicks, sound effects, spoken voice. The 
Family Album was simple by comparison. To 
portray my grandfather's obsession with preserv- 
ing this voluminous paper trail, I came upon what 
would later seem obvious — the typewriter. The 
tool of business, the tool of his autobiographical 
quest." 

Berliner's 1981 15-minute collage film, Myth 
in the Electric Age, had explored the typewriter 
sound effect. Concocting the typewriter motif for 
Intimate Stranger was a crucial breakthrough: It 
became a bridge between seeing and feeling, 
between what an audience perceives and what 
they experience and think as a result. It was also as 
if Berliner were continuing to write his grand- 
father's autobiography in film. 

The Family Album was filled with Berliner's 
often bittersweet image-sound combinations cul- 
led from anonymous material. With Intimate 
Stranger he was creating juxtapositions from 
scratch, ever conscious of his conflict between 
being objective biographer and grandson. Some 
relatives, who participated in lengthy one-on-one 
interviews, were initially dubious of Berliner's 
mission. An uncle (later in voiceover) remarked, 



Berliner's film on his grandfathe 
an international merchant whose 
greatest loyalties were toward his 
business associates on distant 
continents — was constructed from 
the thousands of photos, receipts, 
letters, and other documents saved 
and sorted by Cassuto and the 
filmmaker. 




"He led an interesting life, but a lot of people lead 
interesting lives. He was just an ordinary man." Of 
course, Cassuto was beyond ordinary in the eyes 
of his international business and political col- 
leagues. For Berliner, the tension between these 



MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 31 



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different opinions would become the film. 

Once he completed nine months of reading and 
cataloging letters and entered u. hat would total 1 7 
months of editing. Berliner could sever the invis- 
ible ties. Joe Cassuto became a subject in a bio- 
graphical portrait; his story would resonate for an 
audience beyond his family. The film would re- 
veal what any family shares, and through editing 
Berliner could manipulate the delicate, archetypal 
interplay of people*s lives. "Film was my dis- 
tance." Berliner says, "and also my immunity." 

Intimate Stranger evolved into a film of a man 
torn between family and business. The film over- 
flow s with images portraying the participants in 
this life-long struggle. Berliner introduces and 
removes images with the thudding sound of an old 
manual typewriter. Each still image is connected 
to a specific audio cue — a bell, a gong, the pop- 
ping sound of a space bar. Berliner describes how 
he operates his "picto-typewriter" in one typical 
sequence:"Over a freeze frame of my grandmother 
about to walk down the front steps, my uncle is 
heard commenting on her emotional vulnerabil- 
ity, having to keep order in an 'emotionally vio- 
lent' home while my grandfather was in Japan. 
Suddenly her first step — freeze frame. Another 
step — freeze frame. Each step is articulated by the 
distinct sound of a typewriter key hitting. At the 
final frozen step, my mother says in voiceover, 
'She had a nervous breakdown because of that. 
Alan." The still image remains on the screen for 
tw o more seconds, allow ing this revelation to sink 
in." 

Forcontrast. Berliner created dizzying rhythms 
by editing with machine-gun rapidity images of 
parcel post receipts and stamped envelopes. This 
visual flurry mirrors the zeal with which Berliner's 
grandfather sent relief packages to Japan during 
World War II. The accompanying clack of keys 
and bells signals the end of another line of biogra- 
phy, another sequence in the film. As the film- 
maker recorded in his journal. 

/ see shots that could be shorter. 

I see sounds that could be louder. 

I hear music that could be different. 

There will be other films. 

For over three years Berliner refined Intimate 
Stranger until the vision originally buried in his 
paper mountain became manifest. For this film- 
maker, editing is listening to the material which 
dictates the structure it will take. Whether it's 
thousands of photographs from the New York 
Times, relatives, or perhaps even himself. Ber- 
liner reshapes his material, returning it to the 
viewer in a new. more meaningful form. "What 
I'm doing now is something I've done my whole 
life." he says. "My work is reminiscent of my 
childhood, except now the toys are more compli- 
cated, the stakes a lot higher, and it's so much 
more expensive!" 

Gabriella Oldham is completing a book on Busier 
Keaton's short films. She lives in New York City. 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 



32 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



TROY SELVARATNAM 



Set in San Francisco's legendary North Beach, 
Steal America chronicles the dissolute lifestyles 
of three foreigners in search of the American 
dream. Neo-Bohemians Christophe, Stella, and 
Maria are not your typical immigrants of the 
Horatio-Alger sort; rather, they spend their time 
joyriding, getting inconsequential jobs, and ex- 
ploring the terrain, sexual and spatial, of their 
adopted homeland. Co-written and edited by Glen 
Scantlebury, the film has been likened to the 
French and Czech new wave films of the sixties. 
More than a road movie. Steal America is a poetic 
monochromatic portrait of self-discovery in 
America's subculture. Steal America: Karen 
Larsen, Larsen Associates, 330 Ritch St., San 
Francisco, CA 94107; (415) 957-1205. 

Mending Hearts is a 90-minute documentary 
produced by Scott Auerbach tracing the lives of 
several people with AIDS. Through direct, in- 
depth involvement in the lives of their subjects, 
including a white heterosexual woman, a single 
gay man, and a black heterosexual man, the film- 
makers present the day-to-day acts of grace, cour- 
age, and conviction that have largely escaped 
media attention. Weaving together a narrative 
from these lives, the program offers a vision of a 
compassionate and intelligent response to the 
AIDS epidemic. NAACP National Director Julian 
Bond and Task Force on AIDS Chair Richard P. 
Keeling, MD, served on the film's advisory board. 
Mending Hearts: Scott Auerbach, 200 King 
George St., Annapolis, MD 21401; (301) 268- 
5587. 

Exploring the life of the late-Victorian writer 
and poet Isabelle Eberhardt, The Great Invisible 
adopts a nonconventional approach to biographi- 
cal filmmaking. Eberhardt left Geneva for North 
Africa, converted to Islam, adopted the disguise 
of a man, pushed herself to the borders of annihi- 
lation, indulging in drink and sex, and died at the 
age of twenty-seven in a flash-flood in the desert. 
Four different women play the role of Eberhardt, 
illustrating her multifarious personality, and di- 
rector Leslie Thornton intercuts archival segments 
that reveal Europeans' exoticizing gaze at the 
Orient. The film functions as a portrait of the 
complexities of character and the blindnesses that 
preside when one culture comes into contact with 
another. The Great Invisible will be released in the 
spring of 1993 as a 90-minute 16mm feature. The 
Great Invisible: David Barker, Box 650 Cooper 
Station, New York, NY 10276; (212) 645-8902. 

Emerging from a past as rich and bewitching as 
the blues, Zydeco music is arguably the most 
pervasive aspect of southwest Louisiana culture. 
Joining preteens and oldsters in electric dance 
halls, and black cowboys and accordion-players, 
the music spearheads a cultural renaissance that 
embraces the multifaceted people of the Bayou. 
Zydecountry! is a half-hour documentary that 




takes a look at Zydeco music and the lifestyles of 
the Creole people who created it. The film is now 
seeking finishing funds, and a 1 5-minute first-edit 
is available. Zydecountry!: Ethan Prochnik, Tel- 
luride Productions. 216 W. 99th St. #4, New 
York, NY 10025; (212) 865-7914. 

Sisters Jennifer and Leslie Schwerin have be- 
gun production of their first collaborative work, 




From The Great Invisible, about Victorian poet 
Isabelle Eberhardt, who moved to North Africa, 
converted to Islam, and disguised herself as a 
man. 

Courtesy filmmaker 

Talking Trash, an hour-long documentary that 
looks at garbage in a cultural context: How did 
Americans' attitudes and values lead to the profu- 
sion of waste in this country? How are those 
values changing now that garbage has become 
such a problem? Using old sitcoms, commercials, 
and conversations with garbage historians and 
garbage haulers, the Schwerins will trace 
America's romance with disposability. Interviews 
with "garbage police," dedicated recyclers, and 
advertisers of ecologically sensitive products will 
reveal the business-oriented and ideological sides 
of trash reduction. Talking Trash: Nomad Produc- 
tions, 619 South 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19147; 
tel./fax: (215) 627-4399. 

Suburban youth, faced with futures of jobless- 
ness or minimum-wage slavery, understandably 
rebel, drop out, hang out, and listen to music 
characterized by palpable rage. In America, a 
large number of the children of the disenfrachised 
white middle class find their voice in heavy metal 
music. Bodywork, a 90-minute comic explora- 



tion of this phenomenon, is currently in pre- 
production and promises an intense look at what 
makes this country tick. Bodywork: I Love Mov- 
ies, 19 W. 73rd St. #4A, New York, NY 10023; 
(212)787-4056. 

A sci-fi film which blends elements of horror, 
comedy, politics, and erotica in time-honored 
fifties style, The Age of Insects begins with an 
instructional quote from Robert Graves and ends 
with a grasshopper poised to dominate the world. 
The protagonist is Dr. Richard Benedict, an amal- 
gam of doctors Goebbels, Leary, and Hellstrom, 
who intends to save the world from human corrup- 
tion by unleashing the psychological resources of 
insects. His prime instrument is his lab assistant 
Sehra, a humble immigrant whom Benedict envi- 
sions as She-Mantis Supreme. Shot on super 8, 
The Age of Insects is a forboding, dark, and comic 
vision of the world's destiny. The Age of Insects: 
Eric Marano, Box 1042, Old Chelsea Station, 
New York, NY 10011; (212)674-6260; fax: (212) 
935-1829. 

Using the black-and-white photography and 
haunting environs of noir and German Expres- 
sionism, All the Love in the World is a unique 
portrait of a man driven to violence in his search 
for a pure love. Eddy Wluicki falls in love with the 
idea of being in love, travelling through the depths 
of despair before finally meeting the woman of his 
dreams. Tormented by the violence in the world, 
Eddy strikes back in anger, leaving a trail of 
innocent victims whom he blames for the death of 
"love." Entirely shot in Chicago, this 90-minute 
film paints a lyrical portrait of love and murder at 
the end of this century. All the Love in the World: 
Nadjafilm Productions, 1411 W. Arthur, Chi- 
cago, IL 60626; (312) 743-7436. 

An omnibus film portrait of the demise of 
Times Square, Late City Final makes use of 
interviews, oral histories, and archival footage to 
chronicle the deterioration of one of our culture ' s 
outstanding icons. Due for massive redevelop- 
ment and homogenization, the historic theater 
district is on the verge of eradication. Old build- 
ings have already been supplanted throughout the 
area, and evictions on "The Deuce" are paving the 
way for extensive demolition. Late City Final: 
Fred Riedel, Koninck USA, 176 E. 3rd St. #4G, 
New York, NY 10009; tel./fax: (212) 674-6860. 

Taking an amusing look at European and Ameri- 
can stereotypes of each other. Innocents Abroad 
focuses on 40 American tourists visiting 10 Euro- 
pean cities in two weeks on Escorted Motorcoach 
Tours. This documentary portrays a diverse group 
experiencing Europe for the first time, struggling 
with and laughing about cultural differences, and 
examines the implications of high speed, high 
traffic twentieth-century tourism. Veteran docu- 
mentarian Les Blank casts his camera on this rag- 
tag bunch and comes up with an effective combi- 
nation of high comedy and acute social observa- 
tion. Innocents Abroad: Laura Schultz. Flower 
Films, 10341 San Pablo Ave.. El Cerrito. CA 
94530; (510) 525-0942; fax: (510) 525-1204. 



MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 33 



FESTIVALS 



Domestic 

IMEKICAN nLM INSllll IK VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

November. CA. Ind s ideo artists featured in \ anet> of 
programs in Best's 12th >r. Curated b\ group of ind. 
video professionals & activists. Last yr 80 hrs of video 
\ 1 \ programs shown. Entry fee: S25. Deadline: Aug. 
1. Contact: Ken Wlaschin. AF1 Video Festival. 2021 
North Western Ave . Los Angeles. CA 90027; (213) 
71; fax (213)462-4049. 

ASPEN EILMEEST. Sept 23-27, CO. About 30 films 
show o annuallv in invitational showcase for ind. shorts, 
dots Ac features. Entry fee: $25. Format: 35mm, 16mm. 
Contact: Ann Egertson. Aspen Filmfest, Box 8910, 
Aspen. CO 81612; (303) 925-6882; fax: (303) 925- 
9570. 

CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Oct. 9- 

25, 1L. Now in 28th yr, test is one of largest US int*l 
competitive tests, programming films & videos pro- 
duced in preceding 2 yrs. Cats: feature (Midwest pre- 
mieres); doc (arts/humanities, social/political, history/ 
biography); short subject (drama, humor/satire, films 
for children, experimental); student (comedy, drama, 
experimental, nonfiction. animation): ind. video (short, 
educational, animation, feature, experimental, music 
video); ind. video doc (arts/humanities, social/political, 
history /biography ); mixed film/video (short, doc. edu- 
cational, animation, feature, experimental ): educational 
(performing/visual arts, natural sciences/math, social 
sciences, humanities, recreation/sports): animation: TV 
prod.: TV commercial. Awards: Gold Hugo (Grand 
Prix); Silver Hugo; Gold & Silver Plaques; Certificates 
of Merit: Getz World Peace Award. Each yr features 
over 1 25 films from several countries, tributes, retros & 
special programs. Entry fees: S25-S225. Deadline: June 
30. Contact: entry coordinator. Chicago Int*l Film Fes- 
tival. 415 N. Dearborn St.. Chicago. IL 60610-9990; 
(312) 644-3400; fax: (312) 644-0784. 

HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. Dec. 
HI. "When Strangers Meet" is perennial theme of non- 
competitive fest showcasing works from or about 
Asian Pacific region that promote understanding among 
peoples of Asia. Pacific & US. Free public screenings & 
crowds of over 50.000 annually attend. Fest held at 10 
locations on Oahu & travels to neighbor islands Molokai. 
Maui. Kauai & Big Island. About 50-80 films shown: 
features, docs & shorts accepted. Format: 70mm. 35mm, 
16mm, 3/4", 1/2". Deadline: July 1. Contact: Hawaii 
Int'l Film Festival, 1777 East-West Rd, Honolulu. HI 
96848: (808) 944-7666; fax: (808) 949-5578. 

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL. Oct. 1-8. CA. Now 
celebrating 15th edition, noncompetitive fest show- 
cases new US ind. work & is venue for int'l films. Last 
yr 100 films shown in 60 separate programs, many W. 
Coast premieres avail, for distribution. Features, shorts 
& docs accepted: program also incl. 3-day Videofest. 
Audiences over 22.000. Fest interested in w orks demon- 
strating commitment & dealing w/ social issues. Entry 
fee: S12 (S20 int'l). Format: 35mm. 16mm. 3/4": pre- 
view on 1/2". Deadline: June 30. Contact: MarkFishkin/ 
Zoe Elton. Mill Valley Film Festival. Mill Creek Plaza. 
38 Miller Ave.. Ste. 6. Mill Valley. CA 94941; (415) 
383-6256; fax: (415) 383-8606. 

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL. Sept. 25-Oct. 1 1 . NY. As 
major int'l fest & uniquely NY film event. 30 yr-old 
prestigious noncompetitive fest programs approx. 25 
film programs from around world, primarily narrative 
features but also docs & experimental films of all 



This month's festivals have been compiled 
by Kathryn Bowser, director of the FIVF 
Festival Bureau. Listings do not constitute 
an endorsement. Since some details 
change faster than we do, we recommend 
that you contact the festival for further 
information before sending prints or tapes. 
In order to improve our reliability & make 
this column more beneficial to indepen- 
dents, we encourage all film - & video- 
makers to contact the FIVF Festival Bureau 
with their personal festival experiences, 
positive & negative. 



lengths. Shorts programmed w/ features. Audiences 
usually sell out in advance & incl. major NY film critics 
& distributors. Press conferences after each screening 
w /directors, producers & actors. Must be NY premieres. 
Fest also planning week-long video sidebar at new 
Walter Reade Theatre; all lengths considered, no film- 
to-video transfers or video installations eligible. Pre- 
sented by Film Society of Lincoln Center & held at Alice 
Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. No entry fee; filmmakers 
responsible for round-trip shipping fees for preview. 
Deadline: early July. Contact: Marian Masone. New 
York Film Festival. 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York 
NY 10023-6595; (212) 875-5610: fax: (212) 875-5636. 

VISIONS OF US. Sept.. CA. 8th annual competition for 
nonprofessional videomakers. sponsored by Sony & 
American Film Institute. Works should express vision 
of the world. Cats: fiction, nonfiction, experimental. 
music video; special Young People's Merit Award 
(under 17 yrs). Grand Prize awarded: all prizes are 
equip, awards provided by Sony. Grand Prize. 1 st Place 
& Young People Merit Aw ard winners flown to awards 
ceremony in LA. Last yr 800 entries received. Judges: 
Corin Nemec. Tim Allen. Carole King. Francis Ford 
Coppola. Ron Underwood. Mario Van Peebles. Kathleen 
Kennedy. Levar Burton. Shelley Duvall. Entries should 
preferably be under 20 min. Format: 1/2". Beta. 8mm 
video. Deadline: June 15. Contact: Visions of US. Box 
200. Hollywood, CA 90078; (213) 856-7743: fax: (213) 
467-4578. 



Foreign 



FESTIVAL DEI POPOLI INTERNATIONAL REVIEW 
OF SOCIAL DOCUMENTARY FILM. Nov. 27-Dec. 5. 
Italy. As one of longest-running all-doc film fests in 
world. Festival dei Popoli celebrates 32nd edition in 
1992. Program incl. Competition Section & sections on 
Film & Art. Film & History. Cinema on Cinema. New- 
Trends. Ethno- Anthropology. Current Events & Screen 
of Sounds. Fest also presents retros & special sections. 
This yr's retro on Europe during Cold War & special 
section dedicated to Indians of Latin America. Fest 



accepts docs completed after Sept. 1st of preceding yr 
which cover social, political & anthropological issues. 
Awards: Best Doc (lire 20,000.000); Best Research (lire 
10,000.000); Best Ethnographic Doc. (Gian Paoli award); 
Best Doc. nominated by Student Jury (Silver Award 
from Ministry of Education). Award money paid to 
directors after awarded film or video formally deposited 
in fest archive. Fest also retains some free use non- 
theatrical rights for college & univ. exhibition. Entrants 
pay round-trip shipping for preselection; for selected 
prints, entrants pay shipping to Italy; fest covers cus- 
toms expenses & return shipping costs. No entry fee. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4"; preview on 1/2". Contact: 
Mario Simondi, secretary general. Festival dei Popoli. 
Via dei Castellani 8, 50122 Florence, Italy; tel: 055 294 
353; fax: 055 213 698. 



FIFARC INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL OF FILM ON 
ARCHITECTURE. CITY PLANNING, AND URBAN 
ENVIRONMENT. Dec. 3-6. France. 5th edition of 
biennial competitive fest. which began in 1 98 1 , will 
be held in December in Bordeaux. In previous edi- 
tion, over 300 entries from 37 countries participated 
in competition. Fest themes are architecture, city 
planning, urban environment, heritage & design. 
Themes can encompass wide range of films & vid- 
eos, incl. social issue docs which deal w/ urban 
experience: fest looks for entries that permit "a 
greater knowledge of the architectures of different 
cities & of those who conceive them, propose a 
reflection on the civilization of the city & bring 
concrete solutions to the problems they pose." All 
styles & topics considered for competition, out of 
competition & audio-visual forum presenting films 
"a la carte." Cats incl. features, shorts, TV magazines 
& student work. Int'l jury awards following prizes: 
Grand Prix of the Biennial Festival & 1st & 2nd 
honorable nominations; Ministry for Housing Prize; 
Regional Council Grand Prix; City of Bordeaux 
Grand Prix; Critics' Prize; Viewers Prize: special 
UNESCO Prize: Local Community Prize: addt'l 
awards totalling over FF200,000. Fest program also 
incl. exhibitions, meetings & conferences. In case of 
films selected for competition, fest may assume cost 
of subtitling or dubbing. Festformats: 35mm. 16mm. 
3/4"; for preselection submit 1/2" or 3/4". 

FIVF will work w/ FIFARC in preselection of 
entries for 1992 edition, collecting tapes for pre- 
screening & preparing consolidated shipment of se- 
lected films & tapes to fest. For further info & appl. 
forms, send SASE or contact: Kathryn Bowser, FIVF. 
625 Broadway, 9th fl., New York, NY 10012; (212) 
473-3400. Entry fee: S25 ATVF members. S30 non- 
members. Fest format: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4". Preview 
w ill be on 3/4" or 1/2" cassette only. Deadline: June 
15. In France: FIFARC Biennale Internationale du 
Film D'Architecture, D'Urbanisme et 
D'Environnement Urbain de Bordeaux. 17, Quai de 
la Monnaie. 33800 Bordeaux, France; tel: 33 56 94 
79 05; fax: 33 56 91 48 04. 



TAM TAM VIDEO INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION. 

Nov. 16-22. Italy. Now in 3rd edition, int'l competition 
for television programs, held in Rome, intended to 
"gather & analyze wide range of television & video 
programs made in South of w orld or focusing on social 
reality in region." Cats incl. doc. docudrama. fiction, 
video art. music clip, animation. Cash awards presented. 
TV broadcasting companies, ind. producers & NGOs 
invited to participate. Programs should be under45 min. 
& broadcast or produced after Jan. 1 . 1990. Format: 3/ 
4". Deadline: May 31. Contact: Tarn Tarn Video. 



34 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



Giomalismo Televisivo e Terzo Mondo, Via Palermo, 
36, 001 84 Rome, Italy; tel: 06 4746246; fax: 06 4864 19. 

TURIN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FILM FESTIVAL/ 
CINEMA GIOVANI, Nov. 13-21, Italy. Now in 10th yr, 
fest is excellent competitive showcase for new, young 
ind. directors & filmmaking trends; held in Torino in 
northern Italy's Piedmont region. US liaison Michael 
Solomon preselects entries for several sections. Int'l 
Competition for Feature Films; 35mm & 16mm Italian 
premieres by young filmmakers completed after Aug. 1 , 
1991. Short Film Competition: films up to 30 min. 
Noncompetitive section: medium-length films (30-60 
min.), important premieres & works by jury members. 
Turin Space: films, videos & super 8 films by directors 
born or living in Piedmont region. Retro: American Ind. 
Cinema of the '60s. Special Events: short retros, screen- 
ings of up & coming directors' works, reviews of sig- 
nificant moments in ind. filmmaking. Awards: Best 
feature film (lire 20,000,000); 3 prizes for short films 
(lire 3,000,000, lire 2,000,000, lire 1,500,000). Addt'l 
awards may incl. special jury awards & special men- 
tions. Local & foreign audiences approach 35 ,000 w/ 22 
nations represented & over 1 65 journalists accredited to 
fest. About 300 films shown during event. Entry fee: 
$10, payable to Cross Productions. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm only; preview on 3/4" or 1/2". Deadline: July 15. 
Contact: Michael Solomon, Cross Prods, 625 Broad- 
way, 12th fl., New York, NY 10012; (212) 777-0557; 
fax:(212)777-0738. 



Distributors are 
looking for you! 

Look for them in 

The Independent Classifieds. 

See page 36 



FIVF THANKS 

The Foundation for Independent Video and 
Film (FIVF), the foundation affiliate of the 
Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers (AIVF), supports a variety of 
programs and services for the independent 
producer community, including publication 
of The Independent, maintenance of the 
Festival Bureau, seminars and workshops, 
an information clearinghouse, and a grant 
making program. None of this work would 
be possible without the generous support of 
the following agencies, foundations, and 
organizations: New York State Council on 
the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts, 
a federal agency; John D. and Catherine T. 
MacArthur Foundation; J. Roderick 
MacArthur Foundation; Rockefeller Foun- 
dation; Consolidated Edison Company of 
New York; Beldon Fund; Edelman Family 
Fund, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, 
and Funding Exchange. 



CUT LOOSE 

EDITORIAL 

3/4 

Betacam 

Chyron 



Computerized Off Line 

and 
Editorial Consultation 



from pro with 15 years 
On-line experience 



Bruce Follmer 
(212) 678-2560 



The Baltimore Film Forum 



announces 



The Best of Fest Winner 



for 



The 23rd Baltimore 

Independent Film and Video 

Makers' Competition 



THE JAPANESE VERSION 

by Luis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker 
New York 



For a complete list of 1992 winners 

and/or 

a 1993 competition entry form, 

call or write: 

The Baltimore Film Forum 

at The Baltimore Museum of Art 

10 Art Museum Drive 

Baltimore, Maryland 21218 

410-889-1993 



K^r 




u* 



VIDEO POST PRODUCTION 



VID€OG€NIX 

212.925.0445 

594 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10012 




MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 35 



CLASSIFIEDS 



Buy ■ Rent ■ Sell 

l \K(,h Oh Hi t M' \( t i\ Ml \B1 E Radio prod. co. 
has large space in Tnbcca office suitable lor prod. co. or 
small arts organization, tad. iccess to enclosed offices, 

add' I desk space, phone system, lav & copier. Call 1 2 1 2} 
614-1444 

1 t \l»|NG WORLDWIDE DISI'KIBl TOR otters pri\ate 
space w panoramic \iews in bright south-midtown 
office Conference room, \ ideo screening facilities &. all 
office amenities. SI. 200 to S1.500/mo. subject to ser- 
Call (212) 686-6777. 

IOKWI ^PERFECT CONDITION Eclair ACL 16mm 
w 2i Hi A 400 mags. (3,000. 9-95 Angenieux zoom 
lens. SI. 200. Whole pkg negotiable. Call Mark (212) 
431" 

Ml LING ( OMFLETE SI PER 8 EDITING SYSTEM. 

Sliding magnetic head editing bench (SI 50): 2-gang 
s>nthesi/er ($350); Bodine motor, type NYC ($250). 
E\ en thing for $650. Call (212) 995-8196. 

\ IDEO FOR SALE: Le Roi du Crazy. Or That's No Life 
Jerry' Award-winning mock doc on comedian Jerry 
Lew is. featuring uncanny impersonations. Must-see for 
an\ one who gets kick out of Jerry Lewis — or would like 
to kick him. Box 461235. Los Angeles. CA 90046. 

\\ ORDSCRIPT turns MS Word (Mac) into professional 
scriptw riling tool. Automatic screenplay formatting & 
editing. Outlining, scene numbers, character glossary, 
etc. S49.95 ea. to: R. Arnold. 2550 Greenway St. #9. 
Toledo. OH 43607: (419) 536-6313. 

Distribution Opportunities 

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF SHORT FILMS, fea- 
ture-length pkg of live-action shorts, seeks films for 
compilations. For submission form, write: Andalusian 
Pictures. 1 08 1 Camino del Rio So. #1 1 9. San Diego. C A 
92108: (800) 925-CL\E: fax: (619) 497-081 1. 

SEEKING NEW WORKS for educational & health care 
markets. Fanlight Productions distributes films/videos 
in areas of health, sociology, psychology, etc. Brenda 
Shanley. Fanlight Prods. 47 Halifax St.. Boston. MA 
02130: (61 7 1 524-0980. 

SEEKING NEW WORKS for educational mkts. Educa- 
tional Productions distributes videos in early childhood, 
special & parent education. Linda Freeman. Educa- 
tional Prods. 7412 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy. Port- 
land. OR 97225: (800) 950-4949. 

VARIED DIRECTIONS INTL. distributors of socially 
important, award-winning programs on child abuse, 
heal th & w omen ' s issues, seeks select films/videos. Call 
Joyce at ( 800) 888-5236 or write: 69 Elm Street. Camden. 
ME 04843: fax: (207) 236-4512. 

Preproduction 

CHECK IT OCT BEFORE VOL SEND IT IN. Script 
editor w/ 15 yrs experience & numerous broadcast & 
nonbroadcast credits will evaluate, edit &/or rework 
your script quickly & at a fair price. Call (201) 333- 
3914. 

Freelancers 

FILM SCORING: Original music by professional com- 
poser. Sensitive & creative. Acoustic & synthesized 



Each entry in the Classifieds column has a 
250-character limit & costs $20 per issue. 
Ads exceeding this length will be edited. 
Payment must be made at the time of 
submission. Anyone wishing to run a 
classified more than once must pay for 
each insertion & indicate the number of 
insertions on the submitted copy. Each 
classified must be typed, double-spaced 
& worded exactly as it should appear. 
Deadlines are the 8th of each month, two 
months prior to the cover date (e.g. May 
8 for the July issue) . Make check or money 
order — no cash, please — payable to FIVF, 
625 Broadway, 9th floor, New York, NY 
10012. 



music. Computer/MIDI studio. Russ Lossing Produc- 
tions (914) 968-8476. 

BETACAM SP field prod, w/ Sony broadcast B VW 400 
camcorder, best & most light-sensitive camera avail. 
Complete sound, lighting, grip equip, incl. stabilizer for 
steadicam-style shots. Exp. DP & crew . Color correc- 
tion & full editing avail. (212) 529-1254. 

HI-QUALITY, LO-HYPE IN \ A: Cinematographer. sound 
recordist, more. Exp., good attitude, reasonable rates. 
1 6mm. 35mm. video. Eclair NPR 1 6mm camera. Nagra. 
lights. Will travel. Reel avail. Neil Means (804) 296- 
8955. 

I AM A CAMERA. From hi-8 to Betacam. from super 8 
to 35mm. Call Ronny (718) 720-9383. 

NEED A FEW SHOTS or interviews done anywhere in 
California to complete your doc? Own hi-8 equip., but 
can shoot all formats. References/reel. Affordable. Ol- 
ive Branch Prod. (310) 444-9715. 

REPRO-QU ALITY FILM STILLS for publicity, publica- 
tion. Negs w / photos from 8-35mm. 20 yrs exp. making 
photos from films for MoMA Books. Whitney Museum 
& Art Forum. S25/neg. w/ 8x10 or 2-5x7; 3-day service. 
(718)522-3521. 

RECESSION SPECIAL: Hi-8 location pkg (new CCD- 
V5000). S 100/day . Optional accessories. Also hi-8 con- 
trol track editing. SlO/hr. Third Wave Media. Upper 
East Side location. (212) 751-7414. 

WF RISD MFA 92 GRAPHICS VIDEO MJR seeks F/T 

employment/internship in doc./ethno. film & video prod, 
design/crew pos. Skills: edit, photog.. Mac. fluent French 
& Rus.. exp. travel. Avail. 6/92. Nadia (401 ) 351-5738. 

BETACAM SP. S450/day. Cameraman w/ Ikegami 
HL79E/BVW-35SP looking for interesting short-term 
projects. Corp.. industrial, doc. Incl. tripod, mics. moni- 
tor, lighting. 5-passenger van incl. 3/4" Sony off-line 



editing suite. S15/hr. Tom (212) 279-7003. 

ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY avail, at affordable 
rates to organize prod, co.: handle film financing: pre- 
pare/negotiate options & various agreements; copyright 
disputes or registration. Free phone consult. Gary 
Kauffman. Esq. (212) 721-1621. 

AWARD-WINNING \ 1DEOGRAPHER & producer/di- 
rector avail, for freelance projects (many PBS & indust. 
credits). High-quality Sony camera & sound pkg. (incl. 
wireless). Special rates for interesting projects. Julie 
Gustafson (212) 966-9578. 

JACK OF ALL TRADES for rent. I'm a prod, coordinator 
w/ doc. & industrial exp.. a sound editor & recordist w/ 
feature credits, a DP w/ an Eclair NPR pkg. Familiar w/ 
numerous off-line systems. No. I don't do windows. 
Reel avail. Doug (212) 982-9609. 

BETACAM SP: A ward- winning cameraman w/ BVW 
507 field pkg. w ill work w/in your budget. Equip, pkg. 
incl. Vinten tripod, DP kit. wide-angle lens. Neuman 
KMR8 1 . Lavs & Toyota 4-Runner. B VP7/B VW 35 pkg 
avail. & full postprod. services. Hal (201) 662-7526. 

THE SCREENPLAY DOCTOR & the Movie Mechanic- 
Prof, story analysts/postprod. specialists will analyze 
your screenplay or treatment & evaluate your film-in- 
progress. Major studio & ind. background. Reasonable 
rates. (212)219-9224. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY avail, for dramatic 16 
or 35mm prods of any length. Credits incl. Metropoli- 
tan. Call to see my reel. John Thomas (201 ) 783-7360. 

GERMAN CINEMATOGRAPHER. award-winning, 
avail, in New York area. Owner of 16mm Aaton pkg. 
Will travel. Wolfgang Held (212) 620-0029. 

PARIS IS BURNING-DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY. 

Documentaries, features, commercials, rock videos. Ask 
for my reel — I think you will like what you see. Owner 
of super 16-capable Aaton pkg. Paul (212) 475-1947. 

AWARD-WINNING CAMERAMAN w/ 16mm ACL U & 
Betacam looking for challenging projects. Partial client 
list: ABC Sports. IBM. LIRR. Pitney Bowes. Wilder- 
ness Society. Complete crews avail., incl. sound & grip 
pkgs. Reasonable rates. Call Mike (718) 352-1287. 

STEADICAM for film & video. Special rates for inde- 
pendents. Call Sergei Franklin (212) 228-4254. 

TOP FLIGHT COMPOSER w/ extensive prod, experi- 
ence, fluent in all styles, avail, for dramatic, doc., or 
commercial projects. Well-equipped Midi Studio. Call/ 
write for demo. Phil Rubin Music. 157 W. 57th St. #500, 
New York. NY 10019: (212) 956-0800. 

BETACAM SP & HI-8 pkg. avail, w/ or w/out well- 
travelled documentary & network cameraman & crew ■•. 
Ed Fabry (212)387-9340. 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY w/ 8 feature films exp. 
Credits incl. Straight Out of Brooklyn. Self-owned 35/ 
16 camera systems, lights/electrical pkg.. sync-sound 
recording sys. Lowest rates! Call John Rosnell (212) 
366-5030. 

RICHARD CHISOLM. director of photography, film & 
video. Int'l doc. work. 11-yrs experience, reel avail. 
(410)467-2997. 

Postproduction 

BRODSKY & TREADWAY: Super 8 & regular 8mm 
film-to-video transfers, scene-by-scene to 1 " & Betacam. 



36 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



The Association 
of Independent 
Video and 
Filmmakers 



^t^hen you join the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, you're doing something for yourself — and for 
others. Membership entitles you to a wide range of benefits. 
Plus, it connects you with a national network of independent 
producers. Adding your voice helps us all. The stronger AIVF 
is, the more we can act as advocate for the interests of inde- 
pendents like yourself — inside the corridors of Washington, 
with the press, and with others who affect our livelihoods. 



% Settefcfo a£ "WtevH&enAAifi 



HE INDEPENDENT 

lembership provides you with a year's 
ubscription to The Independent. Pub- 
shed 10 times a year, the magazine is 
vital source of information about the 
idependent media field. Each issue 
elps you get down to business with 
>stival listings, funding deadlines, ex- 
ibition venues, and more. Plus, you'll 
nd thought -provoking features, 
overage of the field's news, and 
sgular columns on business, techni- 
al, and legal matters. 

HE FESTIVAL BUREAU 

JVF maintains up-to-date information 
n over 650 national and international 
*stivals. and can help you determine 
rhich are right for your film or video. 

iaison Service 

JVF works directly with many foreign 
;stivals, in some cases collecting and 
hipping tapes or prints overseas, in 
ther cases serving as the U.S. host to 
isiting festival directors who come to 
review work. 

ape Library 

Iembers can house copies of their 
r ork in the ATVF tape library for 
creening by visiting festival program- 
lers. Or make your own special 
creening arrangements with ATVF. 

^FORMATION SERVICES 

distribution 

i person or over the phone, AIVF can 
rovide information about distributors 
nd the kinds of films, tapes, and 
larkets in which they specialize. 



ATVF's Member Library 

Our library houses information on dis- 
tributors, funders, and exhibitors, as 
well as sample contracts, funding ap- 
plications, budgets, and other matters. 

SEMINARS 

Our seminars explore current busi- 
ness, aesthetic, legal, and technical 
topics, giving independent producers a 
valuable forum to discuss relevant 
issues. 



BOOKS AND TAPES 

ATVF has the largest mail order catalog 
of media books and audiotaped se- 
minars in the U.S. Our list covers all 
aspects of film and video production. 
And we're constantly updating our 
titles, so independents everywhere 
have access to the latest media infor- 
mation. We also publish a growing list 
of our own titles, covering festivals, 
distribution, and foreign and domestic 
production resource guides. 

continued 




AIVF 

625 Broadway 
9th floor 
New York, NY 
10012 



ADVOCACY 

Whether it's freedom oi expression. 
public funding levels, public- TV, 
contractual agreements, cable 
legislation, or other Issues that affeel 
Independent producers, ATVF is 
there working for you. 

INSURANCE 
Production Insurance 

A production insurance plan, tailor- 
made for AIVF members and cover- 
mi; public liability, faulty film and 
tape, equipment, sets, scenery. 
props, and extra expense, is avail 
able, as well as an errors and omis- 
sions policy with unbeatable rates. 

Equipment Insurance 
Equipment coverage for all of your 
equipment worldwide whether owned 
or leased. 

Group Health, Disability, and Lite 
Insurance Plans with TEIGIT 

AIVF currently offers two health 
insurance policies, so you're able to 
find the one that best suits your 
needs. 



Dental Plan 

\ic(.\i\vv(.\ rates for dental coverage are 
available to NYC and Boston-area 
members. 

DEALS AND DISCOUNTS 

Service Discounts 

In all stages of production and in most 
formats, AIVF members can take ad- 
vantage of discounts on equipment 
rentals, processing, editing services, 
and other production necessities. 

Nationwide Car Rentals 

AIVF membership provides discounts 
on car rentals from major national 
rental agencies. 

Mastercard Plan 

Credit cards through the Maryland 
Bank are available to members with a 
minimum annual income of $18,000. 
Fees are waived the first year. 

Facets Multimedia Video Rentals 

ATVF members receive discounts on 
membership and mail-order video 
rentals and sales from this Chicago- 
based video rental organization. 



Join AIVF today and get a one-year subscription to The Independent. 



Rates 

(Canada. Mexico. US. PR) 

J S25/student (enclose copy of 

student ID) 
J S45/indi\idual 

_) $75/library 

3 SlOO/nonprofit organization 

Zi $150/business & industry 

3 Add $18 for 1st class mailing 



Foreign Rates 

(Outside North America) 

□ $40/student (enclose copy of 

student ID) 

□ $60/individual 

□ $90 /library 

-1 $1 15/nonprofit organization 
G $165/business & industry 

□ Add $55 for foreign air mail 



Name 



Organization 

Address 

City 

State 



Zip. 



Country _ 
Telephone 



Professional Status (e.g., dir.) 
92 



Enclosed is check or money order. 
Or. please bill my: (_) Visa 

□ Mastercard 



ACCOUNT # 
EXPIRATION DATE 
SIGNATURE 

Charge by phone: (212) 473-3400. 



pot* /4wy ~?<xu<t M 

Five thousand members strong, 
the Association of Independent 
Video and Filmmakers has been 
working for independent produc- 
ers — providing information, fight- 
ing for artists' rights, securing 
funding, negotiating discounts, 
and offering group insurance 
plans. Join our growing roster. 



MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES 

Individual membership 

1 issues of The Independent 
Access to all plans and discounts 
Festival/ Distribution/Library services 
Information services 
Discounted admission to seminars 
Tape and publication discounts 
Advocacy campaign participation 
Free Motion Picture Enterprises Guide 
Vote and run for office on board of 
directors 

■ Student membership 

All the benefits of individual 
membership except to vote and run fo 
board of directors 

Library membership 

10 issues of The Independent 

Festival/Distribution/Library services 

Information services 

Free MPE Guide 

PLUS: Special notice of upcoming 

publications 

Nonprofit Organizational membership 

All the benefits of individual 
membership except to vote and run fo 
board of directors 
PLUS: Includes up to 3 individuals 

Business/Industry membership 

All the benefits of individual 

membership except to vote and run fo 

board of directors 

PLUS: Special mention in The 

Independent 

Includes up to 3 individuals 



By appointment only. New tel. (508) 948-7985. 

A/B EDIT w/ effects, Sony/GVG sys. w/ DVE, Toaster 
2.0, slo-mo, automated audio crossfades, switcher eff. 
BVU SP, hi-8, Edit List to disk, best quality, excellent 
rates, incl. award-winning editor in comfortable East 
Village loc. VideoActive (212) 979-6051. 

FOR RENT: Sony 5850 edit sys. in own home or in cozy 
Greenwich Village office w/ private bathroom, kitchen 
& garden. $700/week or negotiable. Holiday Special: 
$90 for 5-time run. (212) 727-1732. 

3/4" OFF-LINE VIDEO sys. w/ time-code reader/genera- 
tor. Comfortable, economical, convenient downtown 
location. Call (212) 941-1695. 

DESKTOP VIDEO SYSTEMS: Complete hi-8/S-VHS 
pkgs under $5,000. Incl. Sony hi-8 w/time code, editing 
VCR, computer & frame-accurate decision list control- 
ler sys. Install, train, support. Cliff (2 1 2) 285-1463; Box 
668, Peck Slip Sta., New York, NY 10272. 

OFF-LINE 3/4", $15/hr; w/ editor, $25/hr. Sony sys. 
5800, 5850, RM440, mixer, black generator. Very com- 
fortable, private room, great for clients. 24-hr access. 
30th & 8th. Betacam SP to 3/4" window burns. Prod. 
services avail. Tom (212) 279-7003. 

SONY HI-8 TO HI-8 EDITING. $ 1 2/hr w/out editor. $22/ 
hr w/ editor. Call Burt Barr (212) 226-7188. 

CHEAP, PLEASANT S-VHS: State-of-art sys.: Panaso- 
nic 7750, 7650 w/ on-board TBCs, hi-fi & normal audio. 
Cuts-only for off-line or simple finished prods. Nice 
suite in Flatiron Dist. 24-hr access. $495 for 5-day wk. 
Also avail, w/ editor. Manhattan Media (2 1 2) 645-432 1 . 



3/4" OFF-LINE EDIT. Sony 5850 recorder & player, 
Sony RM 440 controller, Laird 7000 EX CG & audio 
mixer at $35/hr or $20 w/out editor. Also avail.: dupli- 
cations, sys. transfers & prod, facilities at reasonable 
price. Call Nadia (212) 980-0157. 

DAILIES IN SYNC DAILY: 16 or 35mm prepared over- 
night for coding or transfer to tape. Precision guaran- 
teed. $30/400' (1000') camera roll. Student rates & pick 
up/delivery avail. Call NY's only Downtown Dailies 
Service (212) 431-9289. 

OFF-LINE AT HOME! Will rent 2 Sony 5850s w/ RM440 
or RM450 edit controller & monitors. Low monthly 
rates, $650/week. Answer your own phone & cut all 
night if you like! John (212) 245-1364 or 529-1254. 

TOTAL SUPER 8 SOUND film services. All S-8 prod., 
postprod., editing, sync sound, mix, multitrack, single & 
double sys. sound editing, transfers, stills, striping, etc. 
Send SASE for rate sheet or call Bill Creston, 727 6th 
Ave., New York, NY 10010; (212) 924-4893. 

16MM EDITING ROOM & OFFICE space for rent in 
suite of independents. Fully equipped w/ 6-plate 
Steenbeck & 24-hr access. All windowed & new carpet. 
Located at W. 24th St. & 7th Ave. Reasonable rates. Call 
Jeff at Film Partners (212) 714-2313. 

16MM CUTTING ROOMS: 8-plate & 6-plate fully 
equipped rooms, sound transfer facilities, 24-hr access. 
Downtown, near all subways & Canal St. Reasonable, 
negotiable rates. (212) 925-1500. 

STILL COZY & CHEAP, but great, new 57th Street 
location. Rent our Sony 3/4" off-line system for only 



$500/wk. Call Jane (212) 929-4795 or Deborah (212) 
226-2579. 

NEGATIVE MATCHING: 1 6 or 35mm. 40 years exp., all 
work guaranteed! Will beat any competitor's price. 
Video matchback to the AVID I Composer. Northeast 
Negative Matchers (4 1 3 ) 736-2 1 77 or ( 800) 370-CUTS. 
Now accepting AMEX, VISA & MC. 

SUPER 8MM FILM-TO-VIDEO transfer. To 1 ", Beta, hi- 
8, 3/4", VHS. Slo-mo, freeze, toaster EFX also. Stan- 
dard 8, slides, 16mm also. Broadcast quality, low rates, 
personal service. Super 8 camera rental & music cin- 
ematography. Landyvision (914) 679-7046. 



Classifieds Do Pay! 

"I get a few calls a week 

from my classified ad. 

If only one call works, 

it's worth way more 

than 20 bucks. 

It works!" 

Eric Lau, cameraman 



Try Your Ad in The Independent. 




STREET VIDEO, inc. (212) 594-7530 

0NLINEHI8T0BETAw/effects 



PRODUCTION 

Broadcast Quality 

SONY BETACAM SP 
Top Quality/Low Price 



SONY PRO HI 8 
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Tota's/Omnis & "D's" 

PROFESSIONAL 
SOUND 
Senhiser shotguns 



Shure & EV handheld 

PROFESSIONAL 
BROADCAST 
Crews & Staff always 
at your service 



EDITING 

HI BAND 8(EVO9800) 
direct to 3/4"-$50/hr. 
w/effects $75/hr 

HI BAND 8 direct to 
Betacam-$75/hr, w/ 
effects +A/B-$90/hr 

BETA to BETA-$75/hr, 
w/effects-$90/hr 

PURE INTERFORMAT 
Hi8, 3/4" or Beta to 
Beta or 3/4" anytime 

Included FREE: 
Fortel TBC w/full color 
correct. High Res. 
Char. Gen., Tascam 
audio mix and more 

The VHS Room 

JVC 8600U system 
Fades & Wipes 
Full Color Correct 



DUPLICATION 

VHS copies from Hi8, 
VHS, 3/4" or Beta 

Hi8 to VHS burn in 
time code copies 

Beta, 3/4" & Hi8 
timecode stripes 

Only High Grade 
Stock Used 

Great Dubs, Great 
Prices 

Extra Care Always 
Taken 

PRIVATE EDITING 
CLASSES are now 
available on A/B roll 
system and VHS 
system 



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MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 37 



Conferences ■ Seminars 

hi M VIDEO \Kis Maj woitshops: audio postprod. 
(5/2); intro to 3/4 editing (5/9); 3D animation on 
Arnica (5 18);% ideo pnxl ( 5/30); prod, management for 
film A r\ ■ s 12). Contact: F \ A. s 1 7 Broadwa) . New 
York. NY 10003; (212) 673-9371. 

HI M \ll)K)()\f: OREGON si tTBWDM I ONFER- 

IMI Mas 22 .V 23, Medford. OR. Conference will 
otter 14 workshops in prod., incl. writing, directing, 
lighting, editing & postprod. Taught by prod, proles- 
Monals from LA., Seattle & Oregon. Call: Peggy Joyce 
(503)779-0808 

MANAGING I IU I SSI t S May 15. Grand Rapids. MI. 
Seminars on legal, human resource, liability, tax & 
financial management issues for nonprofit orgs. Fee: 
535. MACAA members: S45, nonmembers. Contact: 
Michigan League for Human Sen ices, Lansing: (517) 
487-5436. 

MEDIA LITERACY CONFERENCE on Media Educa- 
tion. May 13-15, Univ. of Guelph (outside Toronto). 
Contact: Constructing Culture, #500- 10 Saint Mary St., 
Toronto. Ontario M4Y 1P9; (416) 923-7271. 

SUPPORT CENTER OF NEW YORK offers workshop in 
developing grant proposals. May 13. 9:30-4:30. Pro- 
posal components covered incl. intro.. problems/needs 
statement, objectives, methods, budget, future funding 
& evaluation. Location: T.B.A. Fee: based on your org's 
budget. Contact: Support Center of New York, 56 W. 
45th St.. New York. NY 10036; (212) 302-6940. 

VISUAL STL DIES WORKSHOP SL AIMER INSTITUTE 

offers 31 one-wk workshops. June 29- Aug. 7. Elec- 
tronic media & film workshops: small format video; 
digital animation & audio using Amiga computers; 
filmmaking w/ found footage & doc. planning. Grad. or 
undergrad. credit through SUNY College at Brockport. 
Contact: Visual Studies Workshop. 3 1 Prince St.. Roch- 
ester. NY 14607; (716) 442-8676. 

Films ■ Tapes Wanted 

FIFTEEN MINUTES: Washington, DC nightclub seeks 
videos & films for screening & performance events. 
Fees to artists. Accepts 16mm, VHS. S-VHS & hi-8. 
Also looking for ambient video. Contact: Eric Gravley, 
1 5 Minutes. 1 030 1 5th St. NW, Washington. DC 20005; 
(202) 667-5643. 

FILMFORLM. S. California's only venue for presenta- 
tion of ind. video & film, seeks work (super 8. 8mm, 
16mm, or VHS preview tapes) by area artists for First 
Sight Scene series. Send work, film description, bio. & 
SASE to: First Sight Scene. Filmforum. Box 26A31, 
Los Angeles, CA 90026: (213) 663-9568. 

L.A. FREEWA\ ES, regional video festival, seeks ex- 
perimental tapes of narrative, doc., art, or animation 
genres by CA artists & videomakers to be considered for 
PBS show . video drive-in. regional cablecasts & exhibi- 
tions at 44 participating media centers in September- 
October. Honoraria for selected works. No entry fee. 
Deadline: May 6. Send 3/4" or VHS. resume & return 
postage to: Freewaves. c/o EZTV. 8547 Santa Monica 
Blvd.. W. Hollywood. CA 90069. For more info., call: 
Anne Bray. (213) 687-8583. 

LESBIANS IN THE CREATIVE ARTS invites submis- 
sions for An Evening with LICA: Video Cabaret. Pre- 
sentation group seeks original video works for public 
shows & possible distribution. Artists must own all 




Notices are listed free of charge. AIVF 
members receive first priority; others are 
included as space permits. The Indepen- 
dent reserves the right to edit for length. 
Deadlines for Notices will be respected. 
These are the 8th of the month, two months 
prior to cover date (e.g., May 8 for the July 
issue). Send to: Independent Notices, FIVF, 
625 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. 

rights. Contact: Video. Suite 443. 496A Hudson St.. 
New York, NY 10014. 

MINORITY TELEVISION PROJECT, Bay Area's multi- 
cultural public TV station, seeks programming from 
ind. dirs. producers & writers that have persons of color 
in creative positions &/or present crosscultural perspec- 
tives. Children, entertainment, animation, feature, health, 
education & lifestyles sought. Send 3/4" or 1/2" tapes to: 
Roger Gordon, 71 Stevenson St., Suite 1900. San Fran- 
cisco. CA 94105; (415) 882-5566. 

MNTV in, KTCA-TV series, seeks works by MN inde- 
pendents. All lengths & genres. Fee: SI 00/1 st 5 min. & 
S20/min. after that. Deadline: May 29. Submit appl. & 
3/4", VHS, 16mm or S-8 tape to: MNTV. KCTA-TV, 
172 E. 4th St.. St. Paul, MN 55101; (612) 229-1419. 

NEW TELEVISION, WGBH/WNET joint series, seeks 
works under 30 min. using medium &/or new tech. in 
artistic ways. Range of genres accepted. Fee: SI 10/min. 
Send 3/4" or 1/2" finished or in-progress works to: 
Susan Dowling. WGBH. 125 Western Ave.. Boston, 
MA 02134; (617) 492-2777; or Lois Bianchi, WNET, 
356 W.58thSt..New York, NY 10019; (212)560-3137. 

NEWTON TELEVISION FOUNDATION solicits pro- 
posals from ind. producers for docs on issues of public 
concern. Contact: Newton Television Foundation. 1608 
Beacon St., Waban, MA 02168. 

REEL TIME, monthly film series at PS 122, seeks new 
experimental, docs & narrative films. Super 8 & 16mm 
only. Contact: Jim Browne, c/o Reel Time. PS 122, 150 
1st Ave., New York, NY 10009; (212) 477-5288. 

USED EQUIPMENT WANTED by small univ. film & 
video program. Univ. of Toledo Dept. of Theatre, Film 
& Dance needs your tax deductible 16mm. audio, video 
equip, donation. Contact: Bob Arnold. Dept. of Theatre, 
Film & Dance, Univ. of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606; 
(419)537-2202 

Opportunities ■ Gigs 

CENTRAL AMERICAN NEWS PROJECT seeks indivs 
to produce news & public affairs pieces for new monthly 
public access show on Central America. People who can 
contribute footage of Central America, or who know of 
people in Central America w/ film or video equip, also 
encouraged. Contact: Carol Yourman. 362 Washington 
St., Cambridge. MA 02 1 39; (6 1 7 ) 492-87 1 9. 



COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO seeks full-time fac- 
ulty beg. Fall '92 for film/video prod. & history /aesthet- 
ics. Rapid growth opp. into advanced undergrad. & 
grad. thesis-advising responsibilities. Req.: MFA or 
equiv. exp. Also, full-time faculty sought for grad & 
undergrad. producing & screenwriting. Req.: extensive 
teaching exp.: producer w/ screenwriting background 
preferred. Excellent benefits. Women & minorities en- 
couraged to apply. Send vita, prod, reel & statement of 
teaching philosophy by May 15 to: (for film/video 
prod.) Doreen Bartoni, acting co-chairperson; (for pro- 
ducing & screenwriting) Chap Freeman, acting co- 
chairperson, Dept. of Film & Video, Columbia College 
Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. IL 60605. 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR MEDIA ARTS CENTER 

sought by Film in the Cities. Administer center for film/ 
video/photography/audio education, exhibition, prod, 
access, regranting. Req.: previous background in media 
arts w/ emphasis on education, degree or commensurate 
exp. in media arts. Salary: $40-548,000. Send resume to: 
Search Committee, FITC, 2388 Univ. Ave., St. Paul, 
MN55114. 

EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION CENTER accepting 
appls for residency program. Program offers artists opp. 
to study techniques of video image processing during 5- 
day intensive residency & to create new works. Equip, 
incl. imaging sys., Amiga computers & Toaster. Dead- 
line: July 15. Send resume: project description, explain- 
ing how video imaging is integrated into work; 3/4" or 
VHS tapes of recent work w/ SASE to: Experimental 
Television Center, 180 Front St., Owego, NY 13827; 
(607)687-4341. 

FILM/VIDEO ARTS INTERNSHIPS, 6-mo. minimum, 
15 hrs/wk. Incl. free media classes, equip./facility ac- 
cess. Exp. helpful but not required. Minorities strongly 
encouraged to apply. Contact: Angie Cohn, intern coor- 
dinator, Film/Video Arts, 817 Broadway, New York, 
NY 10003-4797; (212) 673-9361. 

FILM AND VIDEO CENTER DIRECTOR sought by the 
South Carolina Arts Commission. Base salary: S28, 1 1 8. 
Serves as fundraiser, grants writer, administrator for 
Media Arts Center. B.A. degree in film or video & four 
yrs exp. in media arts field. Position open until filled. 
Send resume or write for position description to: Media 
Center Position, SC Arts Commission. 1800 Gervais 
St.. Columbia. SC 29201. 

VIDEO BUDDIES: Scribe Video Center. Philadelphia 
seeks exp. mediamakers to volunteer to work w/ emerg- 
ing videomakers to help them complete projects. If you 
have expertise in fundraising. scripting, prod. &/or 
editing, call Margie Strosser (215) 735-3785. 

VISUAL STUDIES WORKSHOP accepts appls for artist - 
in-residence program at its media center. Term beg. 
Sept. 1992. Program offers 1-mo. residences to allow 
artists time & facilities to pursue work. 51,000 hono- 
rarium. Open to artists living in US . Media artists invited 
to submit proposals for new audio work. Deadline: June 
1 2. Send sample of work-in-progress (on audio cassette, 
Amiga disk, 8mm, VHS or 3/4"), SASE, description of 
sample, resume & description of residency project 
to:Artist-In-Residence Program, Media Center at Vi- 
sual Studies, 31 Prince St., Rochester, NY 14607. 

WYES-TV, NEW ORLEANS seeks ind. producer for nat ' 1 
series Parenting Your Aging Parents. Producer w/ track 
record of projects on elderly & also has nat'l prod, exp 
preferred. Send resume & tape to: Beth Urterback. 
WYES TV, 9 1 6 Navarre Ave., New Orleans, LA 701 24; 
(504)486-5511. 



38 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



Resources ■ Funds 

AMERICAN DIALOGUE GRANTS PROGRAM to assist 
arts communities to explore in own communities issues 
raised in An American Dialogue. Indivs & orgs eligible 
for awards, $250-$5,000. Deadline: July 1. To request 
copy of report or for appl., call: Association of Perform- 
ing Arts Presenters, Washington DC, (202) 833-2787. 

CPB TELEVISION PROGRAM FUND seeks proposals 
from minority producers to develop & produce pro- 
grams for national public TV broadcast. Submissions 
for Multicultural Programming Solicitation must have 
minority participation in four of six positions: exec, 
prod., prod., dir., writer, subject & talent. All subjects 
eligible. Deadline: June 4, 1992. For appl., contact: 
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, (202) 879-9600. 

FILM ARTS FOUNDATION Grants Program awards 20 
grants totalling $54,000 to ind. film- & videomakers in 
10-county San Francisco Bay Area. Cats: short personal 
works, project development & completion/distribution. 
For guidelines & appl., contact: FAF, 346 9th St., 2nd fl., 
San Francisco, CA 94103. 

FILMMAKERS' COOPERATIVE offers grants to subsi- 
dize rentals of experimental, avant-garde film & video. 
Max. 50% subsidies for teachers, librarians, other indivs. 
Contact: Filmmakers' Cooperative, 1 75 Lexington Ave., 
New York, NY 10016; (212) 889-3820. 

FULBRIGHT PROGRAM WITH THE UNITED KING- 
DOM offers '93-'94 fellowships in film & television to 
pursue professional work in UK; open to US citizens w/ 
3-yrs professional exp. in any area of film & TV. 
Candidates encouraged to correspond w/ British coun- 



terparts; purely academic proposals not appropriate. 
Grant: £12,000 for 6-9 mo. period. Deadline: Aug. 1. 
Send project statement & VHS tape of recent work w/ 
SASE. For appl., call: (202) 686-7878. Questions, con- 
tact: Dr. Karen Adams, (202) 686-6245 or Ms. Betsy 
Lewis, (202) 686-6242. 

F/VA GRANTS AVAILABLE for film exhibition by non- 
profit orgs in NY. Matching funds of max. $300/ film 
rentals; max. $200/ speaking engagement by filmmak- 
ers, prods, dirs, technicians, scholars. Priority given to 
orgs showing ind./rarely avail, films. Deadlines: June 1 5 
& Aug. 15. Contact: Film/Video Arts, 817 Broadway, 
New York, NY 10003; (212) 673-9361. 

ITVS' INDEPENDENT FICTION FOR TV: Indepenent 
Television Service (ITVS), funder of ind. prods for 
public TV, invites proposals for original, low-budget 
dramas, up to 60 min. in length, for series created to 
challenge conventions of TV. Deadline: July 15. For 
guidelines, contact: ITVS, Box 75455, St. Paul, MN 
55175; (612)225-9035 

MEDIA ARTS SCREENWRITERS FELLOWSHIPS sup- 
port Pennsylvania residents' projects. Deadline: June 1. 
For info., contact: Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, 
2318 S. Queen St., York, PA 17402; (717) 741-1269. 

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES 

Fellowships support 6 to 1 2 months of fulltime work on 
humanities projects through Fellowships for University 
Teachers & Fellowships for College Teachers & Inde- 
pendent Scholars. Max. stipend: $30,000. Deadline: 
June 1 . Summer stipends for 2 mos; academic faculty 
nominated by institution, unaffiliated indivs apply di- 
rectly. Stipend: $4,000 plus travel allowance. Deadline: 



Oct. 1, 1992. For info. & appls, write: Division of 
Fellowships & Seminars, Rm 3 16, NEH, 1 100 Pennsyl- 
vania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20506; (202) 786- 
0466. 

NATIONAL LATINO COMMUNICATIONS CENTER 

seeks proposals for dramas written by Latinas — original 
programs or adaptations of literature. Proposals must 
incl. treatment for 60- 1 20 min. drama suitable for broad- 
cast on nat'l public TV; appl.; resume; personnel bios & 
3/4" or VHS sample. Industrials, videos & other 
nonbroadcast cats ineligible. Deadline: May 7. For appl. 
& further info., contact: NLCC, (213) 669-3450. 

NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS, Artist-in- 
Residence Programs awards matching grants to create 
residency opps in NY ed., cultural & community orgs. 
For info, on Technical Assistance Programs (appls re- 
viewed yr-round) & Residency Implementation Grant 
& Development Opp. Grant (appls reviewed 3 times 
annually), contact: Greg McCaslin, Artists in Resi- 
dence, NYFA, 5 Beekman St., Ste 600, New York, NY 
10038; (212) 233-3900. 

SOUTHWEST ALTERNATE MEDIA PROJECT offers 
independent production fund. Provides up to $5,000 to 
media artists in TX, OK, AK, MI, KS, NE, PR & US 
Virgin Islands for doc, fiction & experimental film & 
video in all prod, stages. Deadline: May 15. For appl., 
contact: (713) 522-8592. 

WOMEN'S PROJECT FUND FOR FILM & VIDEO seeks 
social issue docs in all prod, stages from women w/ 
budgetary & editorial control of project. Deadline: June 
29, 1992. For appl., contact: Funding Exhange, 666 
Broadway, Rm 500, NY, NY 10012; (212) 529-5300. 




W 



■ 




SOUTHEASTERN MEDIA INSTITUTE 
July 25 -August 7, 1992 



■ Intensive week-Ions professional media 
workshops in Columbia, SC in cinematogra- 
phy, video production, video editing, radio 
production, directing and producing, video 
in the classroom and video production by 
students. ■ Weekend seminars with 
leading industry artists in scriptwriting, film 
criticism, music composition for film/video, 
low budget narratives, grants for film/video 
and the personal documentary. ■ 
Screenings, receptions and premieres. 
Reduced rate for registration by July 3. 
COMPLETE BROCHURE AVAILABLE. 



Southeastern Media Institute 

S. C. Arts Commission Media Arts Center 

1 800 Gervais Street 

Columbia, SC 29201 

(803) 734-8696 Fax 734-8526 




MAY 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 39 



MEMORANDA 



GRANT GRATITUDE 

The Foundation for Independent Video and Film 
(FIVF) has received a $30,000 grant from the 
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 
program of assistance to Media Arts Centers. The 
grant will be used for the publication of The 
Apparatus Guide to No-Budget Filmmaking as 
well as for the promotion and distribution of the 
third edition of The AIVF Guide to International 
Film and \ idea Festivals and Doing It Yourself: 
Self-Distributionfor Independent Film and Video 
.Makers. The grant will also be used to embark on 
the Next Generation Project, a concentrated effort 
to design and disseminate information that ad- 
dresses the needs of beginning and emerging film- 
and videomakers in the US. 



MEMBERABILIA 

Kudos to the recipients of the CPB Fund for 
Multicultural Programming: Paul Espinoza, 
Tierra; Stanley Nelson. Methadone: Curse or 
Cure: J.T. Takagi and Hye Jung Park. G.I. Brides; 
Raquel Ortiz. The Nacionalistas; Juanita Ander- 
son, Of Land and Liberty: Louis Massiah, The 
WEB. Dubois Film Project; Moctesuma Esparza, 
A Bowl of Beings; Michelle Parkerson and Ada 
Gay Griffin. The Life and Work of Audre Lorde; 
Hector Galan, Songs of the Homeland; and Loni 
Ding. Ancestors in America. 

At the College Television Program Awards 
ceremony HunterCollege student Cynthia Meyers 
won the award for best documentary for her video 
Workers without a Voice. Marta Bautis. also at 
Hunter College, received the First Work Award 
for best student First production at the San Anto- 
nio Cine Festival for her video Home Is Struggle. 
The Western States Regional Media Arts Fel- 
lowships winners include AIVF members Jan 
Andrews, Rose Bond, Kathryn Brew, John 
Cambell. Charles Davis, Jeanne C. Finley, Elise 
Irene Fried. Philip Malory Jones, Karen Kennedy, 
Alexis Krasilovsky, Edward T. Lewis, Emily Y- 
Ming Liu. Sava Malachowski, David Mayne, 
Laurie Meeker, and Joanna Priestly. Frameline's 
1991 Completion Fund awarded Pam Walton, 
Mark Christopher, and Barbara Hammer grants 
for their respective projects Gay Youth. The Dead 
Boys' Club, and Making Her Visible. George 
Kuchar, Marlon T. Riggs, and Steina and Woody 
Vasulka were honored by the American Film 
Institute at the 1992 Maya Deren Awards for 
Independent Film and Video Artists. Dorna 
Pentes. Joseph Murphy, and Callie Warner re- 
ceived individual artist grants from the North 
Carolina Arts Council. 

Renee Kayon's short film Nowhereville re- 
cently won an award at the Aspen Film Festival. 
Poem in Action, by Henry Ferrini, won second 
prize in documentary at the Baltimore Indepen- 
dent Film and Video Makers Competition. 
Lynn Hershman's Seeing Is Believing won the 



second prize at the International Video Festival 
at Vigo. Barry Strongin's Gray Rocks netted the 
grand prize at the Sony/A.F.I. Visions of U.S. 
Video Competition. Congratulations to all! 



BETTER THAN BULK 

Through rain, sleet, and snow, the postal service 
delivers — provided mail is postmarked at the first, 
second, or third class rate. But if your mail is 
fourth class or nonprofit bulk — the post office's 
lowest priority — you may have a longer wait. 
This is the way The Independent is sent to all US 
members, unless an extra $ 1 8 is paid for first class 
delivery (S55 for foreign air mail). As many AIVF 
members know, bulk mail can be delivered late or 
sometimes not at all, which creates problems for 
producers seeking timely information. 

The Independent reaches its first stop, the New 
York General Post Office, by no later than the 
25th of each month. This means that by June 25, 
for example, the July issue is out of AIVF's hands. 

If your copy of The Independent arrives spo- 
radically or not at all. and you've made sure we 
have your correct name and address in our com- 
puter database, please consider upgrading your 
mailing service to first class delivery. Call AIVF 
at (212) 473-3400 to find out what the pro-rated 
cost of your upgrade would be. 



GOT A LINE ON DEVELOPING 
TECHNOLOGIES? 

A newly formed AIVF committee is collecting 
information on new technologies — fiber optics, 
digital image processing, etc. — in order to inves- 
tigate how these might affect independent pro- 
duction and distribution. If you are interested in 
participating in our research efforts, or have ac- 
cess to R&D labs or personnel within those de- 
partments, contact Patricia Thomson at (2 1 2) 473- 
3400 or James Schamus at (212) 229-1046. 



Need a tax write off? 

Donate a computer to AJVF! We 

need an IBM compatible and/or a 

Macintosh. Call Anne Douglass at 

(212)473-3400. 



Interns Wanted 

Learn about the world of indepen- 
dent medi.a. AIVF & FIVF need vol- 
unteers & interns to work in their 
offices. 50 hours work will earn you 
a free membership or two seminar 
passes. Contact Kathryn Bowser (21 2) 
473-3400 for details. 



HAVE YOU BEEN AUDITED 
LATELY? 

Have you gone through an IRS audit in the 
past couple of years? If you have, we want to 
hear your story. We want to run an article in 
The Independent on what's happened to film/ 
videomakers in the wake of the recent tax 
changes. Your anonimity will be assured. 
Contact: Susan Lee, film tax accountant and 
writer, 2 Charlton St. New York, NY 10014; 
(212)633-1516. 



UPCOMING SEMINARS 

HEALTH INSURANCE FOR INDEPENDENTS 

Thursday, May 14, 7-9 p.m. 
Tisch School of the Arts, Rm 006 
721 Broadway, New York City, 
For self-employed independent producers, the 
rising cost of health insurance is increasingly a 
source of frustration and alarm. This panel 
brings together a number of industry experts 
who will outline the various options available 
to independents and answer your questions. 

LEGAL AFFAIRS 

Thursday, June 18 

Time & place to be announced 

Attorney Wilder Knight will address a variety 

of legal issues of concern to producers. Watch 

your mailbox for details. 



Calling all arts advocates 
Our phone tree needs you! 

ATVF is setting up a phone tree that 

can be activated during arts funding 

and other political battles. We need 

your help — especially members from 

rural and sparsely populated states. To 

sign on, write: ATVF Advocacy 

Committee, ATVF, 625 Broadway, 

9th a.. New York, NY 10012 



40 THE INDEPENDENT 



MAY 1992 



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AVAILABLE THIS JUNE— RESERVE YOUR COPY NOW 



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To reserve copies of these new books, order now. Please send me. . . 

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copies of The Apparatus Guide to No-Budget Filmmaking. 

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JUNE 1992 

VOLUME IS, NUMBER 5 



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Martha Gever 
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Ellen Levy 
Kathryn Bowser 
Janice Drickey 
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Karen Rosenberg 
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Troy Selvaratnam 
Jeanne Brei 
Christopher Holme 
Laura D. Davis 
(212)473-3400 
Bernhard DeBoer 
(201)667-9300 
PefCap Press 



The Independent is published 10 times yearly by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. (FIVF), 
625 Broadway, 9th floor. New York, NY 10012, (212) 
473-3400, a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational 
foundation dedicated to the promotion of video ond film, 
and by the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, Inc. (AIVF), the national trade association of 
independent producers and individuals involved in 
independent video ond film. Subscription is included with 
membership in AIVF Together FIVF and AIVF provide o 
broad range of educational and professional services for 
independents and the general public. Publication of The 
Independent is made possible in port with public funds 
from the New York State Council on the Arts and the 
National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 
The Independent welcomes unsolicited manu- 
scripts. Manuscripts cannot be returned unless a 
stamped, self-addressed envelope is included. No 
responsibility is assumed for loss or damage. 

Letters to The Independent should be addressed to 
the editor Letters moy be edited for length. 

All contents are copyright of the Foundation for 
Independent Video ond Film, Inc. Reprints require written 
permission and acknowledgement of the article's 
previous appearance in The Independent. ISSN 
0731-5198 The Independent is indexed in the 
Alternative Press Index. 

t Foundation for independent Video and Film, Inc. 1992 

AIVF/FIVF STAFF MEMBERS: Martha Gever, executive 
director; Kathryn Bowser, administrative/festival bureau 
director; Anne Douglass, seminar/membership director; 
Susan Kennedy, development director; Mei-Ling Poon, 
bookkeeper; Stephanie Richardson, administrative assis- 
tant; Anisso Rose, programs assistant. 

AIVF/FIVF BOARDS OF DIRECTORS: Eugene 
Aleinikoff, * Skip Blumberg, Charles Burnett, Christine 
Choy, Dee Davis (vice president), Loni Ding (secretory), Lisa 
Frigand,* Adrionne B. Furniss,* Martha Gever (ex officio), 
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (chair), Jim Klein, Regge Life,* Tom 
Luddy,* Lourdes Portillo, Robert Richter (president), Steve 
Savage,* James Schamus, Barton Weiss, Chuck 
Workman,* Debra Zimmerman (treasurer). 

* FIVF Board of Directors only 



2 THE INDEPENDENT 



JUNE 1992 






COVER: Video correspondent Skip 
Blumberg, hi-8 camera in hand, 
provides an up-close took at Gov. Bill 
Clinton celebrating his victory in the 
Illinois primary lor the PBS series The 
90's. In this issue, James McBride 
looks at the format's increasing 
popularity and what producers are 
saying about its strengths and 
drawbacks. Photo courtesy The 90's 



FEATURES 

20 Hi-8: Videomakers Take the Plunge 

by James McBride 

4 MEDIA CLIPS 

All About Oscar: Documentations Confront Academy over 
Nomination Process 

by Ellen Levy 

Senators Stall CPB Bill, Charge Liberal Bias 

Automatic Copyrights or Wrongs 

by Rick Prelinger 

Shooting from the HIP 

by Max Alvarez 

Orion Classics Execs Form New Distribution Company 

by Wendy Leavens 

Queer Media Database to Get Word Out 

by Catherine Saalfield 

Richard Protovin: 1945-1991 

1 2 FIELD REPORTS 

Pow(d)er Conditions Excellent: The Sundance Film Festival 

by Patricia Thomson 

16 IN FOCUS 

What the Manual Didn't Tell You: Protocol at Postproduction 
Studios 

by Rick Feist 

25 BOOKS IN BRIEF 

Film and Video Financing 

reviewed by John Drimmer 

Moving the Image: Independent Asian Pacific American 
Media Arts 

reviewed by L. Somi Roy 

Packaging the Presidency: A History and Criticism of 
Presidential Campaign Advertising 

reviewed by Holly Metz 

Doris Chase, Artist in Motion: From Painting to Sculpture to 
Video Art 

reviewed by Rob Edelman 

30 TALKING HEADS 

Rambling Martha Coolidge: From New York Independent to 
Hollywood Player 

by Ellen Levy 

35 FESTIVALS 

by Kathryn Bowser 

37 CLASSIFIEDS 

39 NOTICES 

40 MEMORANDA 



JUNE 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 3 



MEDIA ( 



ALL ABOUT OSCAR 

Documentations Confront Academy over Nomination Process 



Nazi-resister Hans- 

Bernd von Haeften 

on trial in a Nazi 

court in Hava Kohav 

Seller's Academy 

Award-nominated 

documentary The 

Restless Conscience. 

Courtesy Direct Cinema 



Over the past few years, feature-length documen- 
tary films o\ erlooked by the Academy of Motion 
Picture Arts and Sciences' nominating committee 
have received more press than those that received 
the nod. Two years ago, reportage focused on 
Michael Moore's Roger & Me not receiving an 
Academy nomination and. before that. Errol 
Morris' The Thin Blue Line. This year the list has 
grown to include Fax Bahr and George Hicken- 
looper's Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's 
Apocalypse, Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burn- 
ing. Michael Apted's 35 Up. Alek Keshishian's 
Truth or Dare, and Morris' .4 Brief History of 
Time. Critic Gene Siskel recently chastised the 
Academy on the nationally syndicated program 
Siskel and Ebert for "its continuing failure to 
nominate the best documentaries year after year." 
And some of the slighted documentarians and 
their concerned colleagues have called for a re- 
examination of a process they say precludes the 
nomination of a whole new wave of critically 
acclaimed, financially successful documentaries. 
This \ ear's five nominees were: Vince Di Persio 




and William Guttentag's Death on the Job. Hava 
Kohav Beller's The Restless Conscience: Resis- 
tance to Hitler within Germany. 1933-1944, 
Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey's Wild by Law 
(about conservationists). Susan and Alan Ray- 
mond's Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House. 
and Allie Light and Irving Saraf's //; the Shadow 
of the Stars (this year's Oscar winner, about San 
Francisco Opera choristers). 

In the past. "It's been one film a year that's been 
ignored, all of which achieved some notoriety.' 
complains Apted. "This year, they've ignored 
every single film that's achieved any popularity 
whatsoever." Apted. along with 1 1 other promi- 
nent documentarians. signed an open letter to the 
Academy board of governors criticizing current 
nominating procedures. The February 24 letter 
raises a long-standing grievance: that an insuffi- 
cient number of documentarians' peers are on the 
selection committee. The Academy currently has 
1 3 branches (for actors, directors, etc. ). the mem- 
bers of which nominate their counterparts for 
au ards. Costume designers, for example "look at 
the craft of their own." explains Apted. "They 
nominate who they think has done the best work 
of that year." But documentary filmmakers have 
no membership branch, so the documentary selec- 
tion committee comprises volunteers from the 
general membership. 

Two years ago. the Association of Independent 
Video and Filmmakers' (AIVF) board of direc- 
tors wrote a letter to the Academy, "suggesting 
reforms so that the process could be fairer." says 
AIVF board president and documentary film- 
maker Robert Richter. "At least the initial nomi- 
nating process could be by the peers, so it would 
be a more professional selection." But. laments 
Richter. "nothing was done." This year's letter- 
« riters also want the selection committee's mem- 
bership to change. Active documentary directors, 
producers, and writers alone should "select the 
nominees." they argue, "just as all nominees in the 
other craft categories are selected by members of 
those crafts." 

Restricting the committee membership to docu- 
mentary filmmakers would significantly change 
its make-up. Mitch Block, president of the docu- 
mentary distribution companyDirect Cinema and 
amemberofthe Academy's documentary screen- 
ing committee for over a decade, claims that "over 
half the participants are documentary filmmak- 
ers. Nevertheless, an all-peer committee would 
displace actors, for example, who now help select 



4 THE INDEPENDENT 



JUNE 1992 



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JOIN AIVF 

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1. Advocacy 
2. The Independent 

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documentaries. It could even bring some of the 
field's young documentarians on board as nomi- 
nators — if they're Academy members. "I think 
the Academy is a very conservative organiza- 
tion," opines George Zaloom, coproducer of 
Hearts of Darkness and a signatory to the protest 
letter, who believes that the committee has a 
generational bias. (At 41, Block is reportedly the 
committee's youngest member.) "I mean, I'm 30 
years old," Zaloom says. "A lot of people in that 
committee are. ..It's a very different group. We 
need to shake things up." 

The neglected films represent "a major shift in 
the documentary field," noted critic Amy Taubin 
in the Village Voice — a shift that helps draw 
crowds. "Films like Truth or Dare or Roger & Me 
have a tone of irony — they play with the medium 
a little bit," Jennie Livingston told the Los Angeles 
Times. Livingston charges the Academy nomina- 
tion committee with a "sort of tonal bias toward 
documentaries that are earnest in character." 

In a written response to The Independent, Bob 
Werden, a representative of the Academy 's public 
relations counsel and a member of this year's 
documentary committee, refutes the assertion that 
nominators are biased against box-office or criti- 
cal hits. Werden dismisses the criticism as "stu- 
pid," citing last year's critically celebrated Oscar- 
winner, BarbaraKopple'sAmericanDream. Block 
accuses the excluded filmmakers of "sour grapes" 
and publicity mongering. "If well-funded movies 
with publicists and resources don't get nomi- 
nated, what they do to sell more videocassettes...is 
they make controversy." 

The excluded documentaries' newfound audi- 
ence and unusual monetary success ($15-million 
for Truth or Dare, $3.7-million for Paris Is 
Burning) have certainly contributed to the 
newsworthiness of their complaints. And Zaloom 
doesn't deny "there's a kind of back end advan- 
tage. Press is good, whatever you can get." 

At this writing, none of the filmmakers inter- 
viewed, including Academy member Apted, had 
heard from the Academy. But Apted says he 
"would be astonished if they don't respond to us, 
if they don't want to sit down with us and discuss 
this." But Block predicts that little will change. 
"The Academy will probably respond the way it 
historically responds: 'We run our awards the way 
we choose to, and if you'd like to create another 
award competition, feel free.'" Like the National 
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the 
Directors Guild, he says, the Academy "is a club. 
Why shouldn't these clubs run their thing the way 
they want to run them?" 

ELLEN LEVY 
Research assistance provided by Holly Metz. 

SENATORS STALL CPB BILL, 
CHARGE LIBERAL BIAS 

The recent stalemate in the Senate over the Corpo- 
ration for Public Broadcasting's (CPB) reauthor- 



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i/ation has gi\ en greater resonance to the parting 
w ords of former National Endowment for the Arts 
M Ai chair John Frohnmayer. who told the Na- 
tional Press Club in March. "If the National En- 
dowment tor the Arts gets picked off, public 
broadcasting is next...." Having successfully laid 
siege to the NEA, conservative senators on Capi- 
tol Hill have tied up federal support for the CPB b\ 
blocking its reauthorization bill (S. 1504). The 
legislation, which would provide S 1.1 -billion to 
CPB for 1994-96. compared to $746-million au- 
thorized for 1991-93. was passed by the House 
last November. 

Independent producers' toe-hold in public tele- 
\ ision is particularly vulnerable, as the debate 
over CPB's alleged "liberal bias" has brought the 
Independent Television Service (ITVS) under at- 
tack. ITVS. which provides S6-million annually 
to develop, produce, and package w orks by inde- 
pendent producers for public television, was cre- 
ated by Congress with bipartisan support in 1988 
to "address the needs of unserved and underserved 
audiences, particularly children and minorities." 

On March 3 the Senate voted to override the 
hold placed on CPB reauthorization last Novem- 
ber by seven anonymous Senators. The 87-7 vote 
provided for 30 hours of debate on whether to vote 
on the bill and flushed out those Republican 
Senators apparently responsible for the hold: Trent 
Lott (MS). Robert Dole (KSi. Malcolm Wallop 
( WY). Jesse Helms ( NC >, Larry Craid (ID). Rob- 
ert Smith (NH). and Don Nickles (OK). During 
the debate. Republicans fiercely criticized public 
broadcasting and repeatedly interrupted discus- 
sion with mention of President Bush's crime bill. 
which they threatened to attach as an amendment 
to S.1504 — a tactic that effectively derailed the 
legislation. At press time, the Senate expected to 
resume consideration of S. 1504 in mid-May. 

During the debate and in the weeks that fol- 
lowed the bill's withdrawal, several conservative 
Senators signaled their intention to offer amend- 
ments reflecting their dissatisfaction with public 
broadcasting. Senator Helms' proposal to abolish 
ITVS is among the principal amendments that are 
likely to be raised when the bill comes back to the 
floor, according to Andrea Smith, a lobbyist with 
People for the American Way (PFAW). Helms is 
also expected to put forth an amendment restrict- 
ing program content. Although Helms' office has 
not yet released specific language. PFAW antici- 
pates that these content restrictions will mimic 
those on indecency, blasphemy, and depictions of 
sexual activity that Helms included in his amend- 
ment to the NEA's appropriation for FY 1990. 

In addition. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) is 
expected to propose an amendment to restrict 
"indecent" programming to a midnight-to-6 a.m. 
safe harbor or ban it altogether. Other possible 
amendments include changing CPB's reauthor- 
ization period to one year from the current three; 
reviving the fairness doctrine (a cornerstone prin- 
ciple of broadcasting regulation, drafted into leg- 
islation in 1 987 and subsequently vetoed by Presi- 



dent Reagan, which requires broadcast licensees 
to provide balanced coverage of controversial 
issues of public importance); and requiring public 
disclosure of executive salaries. 

Adding fuel to the fire, the reauthorization 
debate coincided w ith the release of two studies 
critical of public broadcasting and its perceived 
liberal bias. The first of these, by social scientists 
S. Robert Lichter and Linda S. Lichter of the 
Center for Media and Public Affairs, was made 
public the day debate on reauthorization resumed. 
In 1986 the Lichters. known for their book The 
Media Elite, were invited by CPB board member 
and conservative National Review editor Richard 
Brookhiser to conduct a study of the political 
content of documentaries on public television. 
The plan w as subsequently blocked by members 
of Congress and public television officials. 

The Lichter' s current study concludes that there 
w as a liberal tilt in the 225 documentaries aired by 
PBS in the year ending March 1988. Their study 
has been sharply criticized, however, for its nar- 
row focus on documentaries, which constitute 
only a small segment of public television's news 
and public affairs programming, and for its meth- 
odology. Rather than evaluate the overall leanings 
of the programs. Lichters' researchers divided 
them into segments — "every time the camera 
changed" — and attempted to classify the views 
expressed in each. They found liberal bias in the 
fact that "92 percent of statements on gender 
relations affirmed that society discriminates 
against women." as well as in the finding that, in 
Eyes on the Prize, "racial discrimination was 
described as a condition of American society 50 
times w ithout a single dissenting opinion." 

In February, the Heritage Foundation, a con- 
servative think-tank based in Washington, re- 
leased a 12-page report that is also critical of the 
perceived liberal bias in public broadcasting. The 
paper was authored by Heritage Foundation resi- 
dent scholar Laurence Jarvik. who argues that 
public broadcasting should be privatized since, he 
contends, cable stations have demonstrated the 
commercial viability of such programming. 

In an apparent effort to create controversy 
around ITVS. Jarvik referred to the "ITVS scan- 
dal" in a recent exchange of letters with ITVS 
board of directors chair Lawrence Sapadin in the 
public broadcasting trade magazine Current. He 
charged ITVS executive director John Schott w ith 
mismanagement, citing delays in funding and 
granting. 

In fact. ITVS did not receive start-up monies 
until June 1990 and was not fully funded until 
June 1991. Since then it has granted a first round 
of awards to 25 programs, the first of w hich will 
be ready for broadcast this fall. In defense of 
public TV's program balance. PBS executive vice 
president Robert Ottenhoff cites a 1 990 survey by 
Statistical Research Inc. that found that 79 percent 
of Americans find PBS programming neither lib- 
eral nor conservative. 

After the Senate tabled the CPB legislation. 



6 THE INDEPENDENT 



JUNE 1992 



public broadcasting representatives and conser- 
vative senators' staff held a series of meetings to 
resolve some issues before the reauthorization bill 
reaches the floor. On March 16, according to 
Current, representatives of CPB, the lobbying 
organization America's Public Television Sta- 
tions (APTS), National Public Radio (NPR), and 
PBS met with staff from the offices of Senators 
Dole, Helms, Ted Stevens (R-AK), and others to 
negotiate an agreement that would bring S. 1504 
to the floor minus the crime bill. In the weeks 
before Congress adjourned for April recess, the 
National Coalition of Independent Public Broad- 
cast Producers, People for the American Way, the 
Association of Independent Video and Filmmak- 
ers, NPR, and APTS rallied support from media 
arts activists and public broadcasting supporters 
to counter the assault. 

A compromise was reportedly near when the 
Senate recessed on April 10. It appeared that a 
principal Republican concern — accountability — 
might be addressed with a compromise amend- 
ment requiring CPB to report public TV and radio 
production investments. "That's not something 
that isn't already available," an unnamed public 
TV official told the telecommunications trade 
paper Communications Daily, "although currently 
from multiple sources." Such a compromise, it is 
hoped, could avert an amendment to extend the 
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to CPB and 
IT VS. 

The application of FOIA to CPB could put CPB 
on a "slippery slope" toward government regula- 
tion, according to Gerald Hogan, vice president of 
government relations at CPB. Currently, as a 
private nonprofit corporation, CPB is not required 
to provide information to the public, although it 
routinely does, affirms Hogan. In fact, CPB often 
fills requests it would not be required to meet 
under FOIA, which allows exemptions when, for 
example, requests are too vague or require undue 
effort. The extension of FOIA to CPB would open 
up the corporation to, among other things, law- 
suits and attendant expenses from any informa- 
tion-seeker — even when FOIA would not require 
CPB to supply the information. 

Republicans are also said to have pressed for 
restrictions that would provide CPB's board with 
greater control to insure "balance" in program- 
ming. They claim this is justified by the original 
Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which enjoined 
"strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all 
programs or series of a controversial nature." 
Ironically, public TV officials resist such med- 
dling by citing the Public Broadcasting Act as 
well, which bans political interference. 

Public TV representatives are reportedly opti- 
mistic about passage of the reauthorization bill 
because of the strong audience support for public 
programming, measured in viewer memberships. 
As NPR president Douglas Bennet told the Public 
Broadcasting Report, "This is no National En- 
dowment for the Arts." 

ELLEN LEVY 




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The Association of Independent 
Video and Filmmakers 



AUTOMATIC COPYRIGHTS 
OR WRONGS 

Legislation that would automatically extend the 
copyright term on US registered works, including 
film and video, was approved by the House and 
Senate in different versions last November and is 
now is aw aiting passage in its final version. Know n 
as the Copyright Amendments Act of 1991. the 
bill would automatically extend the copyright on 
works registered between 1964 and 1977 to 75- 
\ears from the current 28. thereby limiting their 
passage into the public domain. (Public domain 
materials are those which, lacking copyright pro- 
tection, are available for use without a license.) 
Originally passed without dissension, the bill has 
recently awakened debate among filmmakers, 
historians, archivists, and stock footage librar- 
ians. 

In like most other countries. US copyright law 
prior to 1978 prescribed a limited. 28-year copy- 
right term, which the copyright holder could re- 
new by application only in the twenty-eighth year. 
In 1 978. the law was revised to provide for a single 
75-year term for most media works. For works 
registered prior to 1978. though, copyright own- 
ers still have to submit rene w al applications. Many 
do not. and. thus, hundreds of thousands of films 
have entered the public domain. The proposed 
legislation will not affect works copyrighted be- 
fore \9M — whose copyright renewal or lapse 
will already have occurred by the time the legisla- 
tion is passed — or those registered after the 1978 
revision. 

Although this situation has been a boon both 
for stock footage libraries that provide access to 
public domain materials and for some makers, 
many creators, not understanding the peculiar 
formalities required by US law . have unintention- 
all\ lost their copyrights by failure to renew . Once 
a work enters the public domain, it can never be 
recopyrighted. 

According to Eric Schwartz, policy planning 
advisor to the Register of Copyrights, the Copy- 
right Amendments Act was designed to "weigh 
the balance between authors who inadvertently 
lose out [by failure to renew their copyrights] and 
those whodistribute otherwise abandoned works." 
Schw artz. noting that only the US and Philippines 
require registration as a condition for copyright, 
contends that foreign authors and filmmakers 
have been disproportionately affected by the situ- 
ation because they are confused by the formalities 
required by US law . 

"As someone who made films in the sixties, 
some of which are not copyrighted. I have mixed 
feelings [about the bill]." says Eric Breitbart. a 
producer and former member of Third World 
Newsreel. "On the one hand, it would limit my 
access to certain kinds of archival material. On the 
other, it would offer some protection to people 
like myself." Schwartz adds that for copyright 
holders. "It's a question of being out of busi- 
ness.... You have one hit song in your career, you 



tail to file a renewal, you've lost income for 
yourself, your spouse, and whoever else for 47 
years." 

According to Larry Urbanski. chair of a group 
called Film and Image Preservationists against 
Automatic Copyright Renewal ( FAIPA ACR). the 
legislation "will have devastating effects on busi- 
nesses, filmmakers, historians, and archives." 
Lrbanski. w hose company Moviecraft. in Orland 
Park. Illinois, sells stock footage largely derived 
from public domain works, argues that there will 
no longer be an economic incentive to collect and 
preserve films dating from 1964-77 if the flow of 
work into public domain is halted. Members of 
FAIPAACR include J. Fred MacDonald. author, 
historian and collector; John Allen, preservation- 
ist and operator of a large stock footage library; 
Ken Bums, filmmaker: Larry A. Viskochil, a 
curator at the Chicago Historical Society: Jan- 
Christopher Horak. senior film curator at George 
Eastman House: and Sharon Pucker Rivo. execu- 
tive director of the National Center for Jewish 
Film. 

"The fact is there's a whole body of films 
which, if we didn't buy and make use of them, 
w ould be lost." argues Patrick Montgomery, presi- 
dent of Archive Films footage library in New 
York City. According to Montgomery, it can 
sometimes be very difficult to find a copyright 
holder to grant permission to abandoned footage. 
"The reason film libraries are in business is be- 
cause there are lots of films out there whose 
owners no longer care. What happens with ar- 
chives is that films with no commercial viabil- 
ity — certain kinds of business and industrial 
films — that would ordinarily be lost, are pre- 
served and made available to the public. This 
legislation means that for films within a 10 year 
period, if no one has an economic interest in them 
and no one's going to renew the copyright, then no 
one can use them." 

Compromise language to address both sides' 
concerns has been suggested . and the likelihood 
is that one version or another will pass this year, 
affecting independents and others who rely on 
copyright protection and the continual flow of 
works into public domain. 

RICK PRELINGER 

Rick Prelinger owns an archive of advertising, 
educational, and industrial films, and frequently 
consults with independent mediamakers and 
archives. 

SHOOTING FROM THE HIP 

As feature film budgets continue to spiral up- 
wards to unprecedented levels, some entertain- 
ment companies are contemplating methods by 
which to reduce costs and encourage more inde- 
pendent-minded film projects. Home Box Office's 
relatively new division HBO Independent Pro- 
ductions (HIP) is one of the more unusual at- 
tempts by the industry to nurture modestly-bud- 



8 THE INDEPENDENT 



JUNE 1992 




Nicole Holofcener (left) in 
Angry, a short about a 
young woman who wants to 
break up with her mother. 
Holofcener's dark comedy 
script Everything Matters 
was optioned by HBO 
Independent Productions. 

Courtesy Good Machine 



geted motion pictures. 

HIP's objective is to develop and produce 
movies in a budget range of $4- to 5-million, 
dramatically lower than current Hollywood stan- 
dards. Primarily in the market for comedy scripts, 
the Los Angeles-based production division has a 
first-look cofinancing deal with the Samuel 
Goldwyn Company for theatrical release of its 
productions. In addition to features, the division is 
actively involved in supplying comedy and "'com- 
edy/reality" programming to the networks. The 
HIP series Roc is entering its second season on the 
Fox network, and another, Down the Shore, is 
scheduled for future Fox airing. HIP has also 
produced two pilots for Fox (Martin Lawrence 
and The Ben Stiller Show) and ABC (True Blue 
and The Road Warriors). 

Although no feature films have been released 
by HIP, early reports from filmmakers associated 
with the division are refreshingly upbeat and 
encouraging to those leery of subjecting cher- 
ished and highly personal screenplays to the hu- 
miliation of studio development. Independent pro- 
ducer Nicole Holofcener. a Columbia film school 
graduate whose five-minute short. Angry, pre- 
miered this past January at the Sundance Film 
Festival, recently had her dark comedy script 
Everything Matters optionedby HIP. What makes 
the occasion so unique is that HIP also wants 
Holofcener to direct. 

"My overall impressions so far have been re- 



ally positive ones," says 
Holofcener, who is now re- 
siding in Los Angeles. "It's 
really too early to tell how 
much control I'm going to 
have. The responses they had 
to the first draft were amaz- 
ingly intelligent. They were 
saying, 'Maybe the couple 
shouldn't end up together at 
the end.'" 

Holofcener's screenplay 
was originally optioned by 
Mark Lipson. producer of 
The Thin Blue Line, and 
Lipson met with consider- 
able rejection before receiv- 
ing a positive response from HIP creative affairs 
director, Alexandria Booke. Lipson is now at- 
tached as producer to Holofcener's film and is 
satisfied with the way things have been progress- 
ing. "I like working with them a great deal. Every- 
thing Matters was a very difficult project to set up. 
It's not the thing that's going to fit the bill of a lot 
of high-concept needs. It's a character-driven 
piece." 

At HIP. Lipson was thankful to avoid the 
common script conference "name game" where 
executives suggest names of actors whose salaries 
fall within proper budget constrictions or meet the 
needs of certain foreign territories for sales con- 
sideration. "To date, their input in terms of devel- 
opment has not been about 'Oh, let's make this 
character more sympathetic' It's not about the 
whitewash of all characters and all plot points that 
is a kind of standard development thing at more of 
a studio level." 

Chris Albrecht is president of HIP and is joined 
by vice president of creative affairs Lowell Mate 
and vice president of business affairs Russell 
Schwartz. The HIP submission policy is in keep- 
ing with most studios and networks: All projects 
must go through agents or attorneys, and 
unsolicited scripts will not be accepted. 

MAX ALVAREZ 

Max Alvarez is a freelance writer based in Los 
Angeles. 



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10 THE INDEPENDENT 



ORION CLASSICS EXECS 
FORM NEW DISTRIBUTION 
COMPANY 

In February a new distributor, Sony Pictures Clas- 
sics (SPC) was bom. Designed to be autonomous 
of its parent, Sony Pictures Entertainment, SPC 
will concentrate on US distribution of low-budget 
US independent titles and foreign films. Its top 
three executives, copresidents Marcie Bloom, 
Michael Barker, and Tom Bernard, served as vice 
presidents at Orion Classics until Orion Pictures 
Corporation filed for bankruptcy on December 
1 1. 1991. "We '11 be able to do what we [at Orion] 
have done in the past, but bigger and better and 
v. ith more stability." reports Bloom. "We have an 
enormous amount of autonomy [at SPC]." 

At Orion Classics, Bloom and her two partners 
successfully distributed such films as My Beauti- 
ful Laundrette. Ran, and Babeite's Feast, as well 
as the low -budget independent film Slacker. Bloom 
points out that although Orion Pictures went bank- 
rupt. "Orion Classics was in profit for its entire 
nine-and-a-half years." 

Eventually, SPC hopes to release eight to 10 
pictures annually. Because SPC falls under the 
umbrella of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). 
as do Columbia Tri-Star Home Video and Colum- 
bia Pictures. Bloom expects there to be "a conduit 
of talent flowing." that is. all areas of SPE are 
eager to share information about talent and poten- 
tial projects. Bloom and her colleagues "will 
continue to be willing and able to commit to the 
distribution of projects on the basis of the script, 
director, and key casting crew." adds Bloom. SPC 
will offer "negative pickup" in such cases, mean- 
ing that it will agree to pay the producer a certain 
amount for distribution rights upon delivery of the 
completed and cut negative. 

In the few months since it has come into exist- 
ence, SPC has distributed Howards End. the $8- 
million cinematic adaptation of the E.M. Forster 
novel by Merchant Ivory Productions, and ac- 
quired all media rights in the US and English- 
speaking Canada to Regis Wargnier's Indochine, 
with Catherine Deneuve. and Olivier. Olivier, the 
latest feature from Agnieszka Holland, the direc- 
tor of Europa. Europa. Olivier. Olivier is sched- 
uled to open in France in September. Several 
directors from Orion Classics (Wim Wenders, 
Stephen Frears. Louis Malle) have also expressed 
interest in working with SPC. 

Although these medium-budget films might 
seem to overshadow small-budget independents' 
chances. Bloom assures that SPC is firmly "com- 
mitted to American independents and English- 
language films" and that the budget of a film has 
no relevance to acquisition decisions. She points 
out that Slacker was a S23.000 film. "Everything 
depends on the picture." she says. 

For futher information, contact: Marcie Bloom. 
Sony Pictures Classics, 7 1 1 5th Ave., New York. 
New York 10022: (212) 702-6666. 

WENDY LEAVENS 
Wendy Leavens is a writer living in New York. 

JUNE 1992 




Though Sony Picture Classics seems 
geared towards bigger-budget speciality 
films such as Howards End, the new 
distributor promises to maintain a firm 
commitment to US independents. 

Courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. 



QUEER MEDIA DATABASE TO 
GET WORD OUT 

In an effort to facilitate access to lesbian and gay 
video and film, the San Francisco-based, non- 
profit media arts organization Frameline has set to 
work building a queer media database — the 
Frameline Lesbian and Gay Filmography/Data- 
base Project. Coordinated by Jenni Olson, the 
project seeks to centralize bibliographic informa- 
tion and distribution contacts about work avail- 
able for rental. The project plans to publish its first 
guide next summer, though the long-term goal of 
the database is to provide computer modem ac- 
cess to users at universities and libraries. The 
initial version will comprise "major or significant 
works," says Olson, with annual updates to ad- 
dress new works and older material not covered in 
the first edition. According to Frameline execu- 
tive director Tom DiMaria, "It seems like a simple 
concept but it could revolutionize the way lesbian 
and gay media is accessed." 

"Up to now, the kind of information [the data- 
base] will offer has been extremely privileged 
information," explains Sande Zeig, codirector of 
programming for New York ' s Ne w Festival. "Each 
year, gay and lesbian film festivals print out their 
source lists, but it's only been available to a small 
group of programmers around the world who ask 
for it. Now, that material will be available to 
everyone." 

Currently there are few signposts for those 
seeking queer media productions. The National 
Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) publishes 
Gay and Lesbian Films on Campus, a 30-page 
xeroxed directory of films and distribution infor- 
mation, "but it's really very limited," says Olson. 
Frameline will incorporate NGLTF ' s data to make 
the filmography a more thorough and widely 
distributed resource. In addition to a printed cata- 
log of annotated listings (describing the nature 
and amount of queer content) and a distributors 



index, the database will include a number of 
valuable appendices. The gay/lesbian film festi- 
val appendix will offer contacts and deadline 
dates worldwide for film- and videomakers. For 
people looking to exhibit and promote works, 
there will be an introductory essay on how to 
produce a festival of any length and size. And for 
curators, a film/videomaker index will indicate 
gay and lesbian directors who distribute their own 
work. Finally, a bibliography will provide further 
resources for critical analysis and historical con- 
text for queer representations. 

In order to cover all North American lesbian 
and gay production, Frameline is working in col- 
laboration with Paul Lee, the programmer of the 
Toronto and Ottawa gay and lesbian film festi- 
vals, and Anne Golden, co-programmer of the 
Montreal Gay and Lesbian International Festival 
of Film and Video, who will organize a Canadian 
database. This information will be cross-refer- 
enced, given that many producers have separate 
distributors in the US and in Canada. Frameline 
will distribute the published data with NGLTF. 
drawing on both groups' extensive national lists 
to get the word out to media and art centers, 
campus groups, and "all different levels of exhibi- 
tion," says Olson, who hopes to distribute the 
database free, contingent upon receiving funding. 

The material in the filmography will be broken 
down into numerous categories, including work 
by and about gays and lesbians, that by gays and 
lesbians about sexually non-specific topics, AIDS 
media, and historical material not necessarily 
produced by queers, that will function as a guide 
forprogrammers. DiMaria confirms, "Our hope is 
to offer programmers the largest menu possible 
from which they can select material of interest to 
any particular audience." For a preview of the 
lesbian section of filmography, an excerpt will be 
published in the Spring, 1992 issue of Matrices, a 
lesbian/feminist research and resource network 
newsletter. 



Although Frameline recently received news 
that their annual San Francisco International Les- 
bian and Gay Film Festival will not be funded by 
the National Endowment for the Arts for the first 
time since 1988, the database project will not be 
affected. The filmography has secured grants from 
the Morgan Pinney Trust, the Undergraduate Re- 
search Opportunity Program at the University of 
Minnesota, and the Stanley Confield Fund, among 
others. The project promises to be an invaluable 
resource for researching, programming, exhibit- 
ing, and promoting lesbian and gay media. And 
it's high time for tangible circulation of this infor- 
mation. As DiMaria points out, "It can't stay an 
oral history forever." 

For further information, contact Jenni Olson at 
Frameline, Box 14792, San Francisco, CA 941 14; 
(415) 861-5245; fax: (415) 861-1404. 

CATHERINE SAALFIELD 

Catherine Saalfield is a writer and filml video- 
maker. Her most recent video, coproduced with 
Melanie Nelson, is Bird in the Hand. 

RICHARD PROTOVIN: 
1945-1991 

Richard Protovin, an animator, painter, and film 
professor, died of AIDS-related illnesses on De- 
cember 6, 1991 at his mother's home in Florida. 
Protovin was associate professor at New York 
University from 1979 to 1988 where he founded 
and headed the prestigious animation program at 
the university's Tisch School of the Arts. 

A native of the Bronx, New York, Protovin's 
career as an animator spanned 20 years. His films 
have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, 
Cannes, Venice, Tokyo, and Moscow. His paint- 
ings and drawings have been in solo exhibitions at 
the Flannagan Gallery, the Animator's Gallery, 
and Raimundo Gallery in New York, and the 
Griffith Gallery in Miami. His work has also been 
shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Peters- 
burg, Florida, and the Museum of Art and Science 
in Daytona. 

On March 1 5 a benefit animation screening and 
animation artwork auction for the newly estab- 
lished Richard Protovin Memorial Animation 
Scholarship Fund was held at the Tribeca Film 
Center in New York. 

For more information on the fund, contact: 
Mary Schmidt-Campbell, New York University, 
721 Broadway, 12th fl., New York, NY 10003. 



JUNE 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 1 1 



FIELD REPORT 



POW(D)ER CONDITIONS EXCELLENT 

The Sundance Film Festival 



PATRICIA THOMSON 



When Steven Soderbergh arrived at the Sundance 
Film Festival in 1989 clutching a wet print of sex, 
lies, and videotape for its first public showing, he 
was a complete unknown. By the time he left; his 
fortune had dramatically changed. Soderbergh 
won the Dramatic Competition Audience Award, 
garnered a rave review in I 'ariety, and came away 
with a Rolodex full of contacts and all the major 
distributors paying court. The all-important buzz 
generated at Sundance, held in January in Park 
City, Utah, propelled sex, lies, and videotape to 
Cannes, where it won the top prize, and on to a 
S24-million gross at the box office. 




Fresh from a successful run at Sundance, 
Allison Anders' Gas, Food, and Lodging went 
on to Berlin, where it was the first low-budget 
independent feature in the prestigious 
Competition in over a decade. 

Courtesy IRS Releasing 



If Sundance marked a turning point for Soder- 
bergh, so too did the stunning performance of sex, 
lies, and videotape transform the festival. By all 
accounts, after 1989 Sundance became a much 
more intense, miss-at-your-own-risk vortex of 
deal making, publicity, and contact building for 
anyone involved in the independent side of the 
film business. 

"See you in Park City." says the producer 
played by Tim Robbins in The Player, Robert 
Altman's new lampoon of Hollywood. Indeed, 
the growing presence of Holly wood players is key 
to Sundance's transformation. Lured by the phe- 



nomenal gross of sex, lies, and videotape, and the 
price inflation of the film after it won the Palme 
d'Or at Cannes, "[Hollywood] began to see Sun- 
dance as a potential pond to fish in easily for new 
talent." says producer Jim Stark, who brought 
three films this year: Jim Jarmusch's Night on 
Earth. Alexandre Rockwell's In the Soup, and 
Gregg Araki's The Living End. "The Hollywood 
people are here in droves — agents, potential pro- 
ducers, studios, talent scouts." says Stark. They in 
turn attract another group, "people who feel this is 
a good place to network and make contacts to take 
the next step up in their career or try to find a job 
in the Los Angeles movie business. And there's a 
third group." Stark adds, "the press, which de- 
cided it wasn't a backwater, private, independent 
affair anymore, but a place where there was enough 
going on in terms of films, presence of stars, 
Hollywood names, so they could interview people, 
sell magazines, and make money." 

Still outnumbering the stars, agents, and press, 
however, are active and aspiring filmmakers. For 
most, the goal is not a Hollywood contract, but 
getting their own independent productions off the 
ground. Many festival-goers this year were hus- 
tling film treatments, such as filmmakers Pola 
Rappaport, Mark Gasper, and one of Charles 
Burnett's producers, Thomas Byrnes. Joe Davis, 
a former reader for Orion, was shopping a script 
and "visiting people he never has time to see [at 
home] in LA." Karen Thomas, who described 
herself as "a scriptwriter with no connections and 
no idea of who to connect with." was typical of 
many Sundance attendees who came with hopes 
fortified by past success stories — in her case, two 
friends who brought a script the preceding year, 
met a producer at one of the festival's Breakfast 
Clubs, and eventually signed an option agreement 
as a result. 

The core of the festival is the competition. 
Since over half the selected films do not have 
distributors lined up when they arrive in Park 
City, many filmmakers set out to use the festival 
as an opportunity to drum up interest. But even 
high profile directors whose films already have 
distributors attached find they can benefit from 
the exposure. Soderbergh was back this year with 
Kafka, along with Mira Nair(Mississippi Masala), 
Errol Morris (A Brief History of Time). Jim 
Jarmusch. Paul Schrader (Light Sleeper), and Les 
Blank (Innocents Abroad), among others. In 
Stark's view, a special screening at Sundance is 
still useful for a film like Jarmusch's Night on 



12 THE INDEPENDENT 



JUNE 1992 



Tom Kalin's Swoon, an account of the 

1 924 Leopold-Loeb murder case in 

Chicago, was one of a crop of gay-memed 

films prominent at Sundance. 

Courtesy Fine Line Features 



Earth, which already premiered at the New York 
Film Festival, has a distributor (Fine Line), and 
opened theatrically in Europe. "It's an opportu- 
nity for the distributor to connect with major 
national and regional film press in preparation for 
the May opening [in the US]." For smaller films 
like The Living End and In the Soup, Stark's 
primary purpose is "to obtain domestic distribu- 
tion and begin to do some publicity in preparation 
for their eventual theatrical release. Sundance has 
become the perfect vehicle for us to connect with 
potential theatrical distributors and persons with 
ancillary rights in the US, and to some extent 
foreign buyers." 

This year people flocked to Sundance in record 
numbers. When Robert Redford's Sundance In- 
stitute took over the festival in 1985 (formerly 
called the United States Film Festival), less than 
16,000 people attended. By 1989, the year of sex, 
lies, and videotape, attendance had more than 
doubled to about 32,500. This year it jumped by 
another third to 4 1 ,500. Says competition director 
Alberto Garcia, "It's growing much more than 
anyone here had anticipated. We were predicting 
two years ago that we'd kind of maxed out. But 
obviously we're still growing. It's like the Blob." 

Although business activity has also increased 
exponentially, it is difficult to calculate the num- 
ber of deals that are a direct result of the festival. 
More often, conversations begun at Sundance in 
January might be concluded the next month at the 
Berlin Film Festival or at Cannes in May. Or the 
exposure at Sundance can result in positive word 
of mouth, additional festival invitations, favor- 
able press notices, a foreign sales rep — all of 
which can lead to sales further down the road. 

This year almost half of the films in Sundance 's 
dramatic competition and a third of the documen- 
taries had distributors lined up prior to the festival. 
Sometimes just getting into the competition helps 
nudge a deal forward, according to Garcia. "[Dis- 
tributors] are all over my back the day after the 
deadline, wanting to know what's in the festival." 

Festival staff traditionally track the competi- 
tion films after they have gone through the 
Sundance-to-Europe cycle, calling filmmakers 
after Cannes. As this goes to press, it is still too 
early to tell if 1 992 's selections will have the same 
degree of success as last year's crop. "Most of the 
[dramatic competition] films got picked up in 
1991," says Garcia, noting that was "an unusual 
year. A lot of films everyone thought would never 
get released did, and did extremely well." These 




included Paris Is Burning (Prestige), Slacker 
(Orion Classics), Poison (Zeitgeist), Straight Out 
of Brooklyn (Samuel Goldwyn), and American 
Dream (Miramax). 

As of late April, at least eight competition films 
have signed on with distributors since Sundance: 
Morris' A Brief History of Time (Triton Pictures), 
which split the documentary Grand Jury Prize 
with Camille Billop's Finding Christa and won 
the documentary division Filmmakers Trophy; 
Lucille Carra's Inland Sea (Films, Inc.); Christo- 
pher Munch's The Hours and Times (Good Ma- 
chine); Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs 
( Miramax ); Alexander Cassini ' s Star Time (North- 
ern Arts and, for home video, Fox/Lorber); Lech 
Kowalski's Rock Soup (First Run Features); Bill 
Plympton's The Tune (October Films); and Neal 
Jimenez and Michael Steinberg's Waterdance 
(Samuel Goldwyn), which took the Audience 
Award for best dramatic feature. 

In addition, filmmaker Eileen Gregory is cur- 
rently in negotiation with Tara Releasing for the- 
atrical distribution of her documentary Deep Blues. 
Other film pick-ups still in the middle of negotia- 
tions are Britta Sjogren's Jo-Jo at the Gate of 
Lions; Anthony Drazan's Zebr ahead, which won 
the Filmmakers Trophy in the dramatic division; 
The Living End; and In the Soup, which received 
the Grand Jury Prize for best dramatic feature. 
Numerous other filmmakers have gotten calls 
from distributors following Sundance, but no solid 
offers. 

Sundance films that went on to receive invita- 
tions to Cannes were Reservoir Dogs and two 
shorts: Through an Open Window, by Eric 
Mendelson, and The Room, by Jeff Balsmeyer. A 
number also went on to Berlin: A Brief History of 



Time; Brother's Keeper, by Joe Berlinger and 
Bruce Sinofsky; The Hours and Times; In Search 
of Our Fathers, by Marco Williams; The Living 
End; Swoon, by Tom Kalin; and Gas, Food, and 
Lodging, by Allison Anders. Gas, Food, and 
Lodging is the first low-budget independent fea- 
ture to be included in the prestigious Competition 
section in over a decade. 

Even though Sundance has become increas- 
ingly attractive as a place to do business, its 
structure remains that of a festival, not a film 
market — nor do the festival organizers care to 
make it one. "A lot happens organically," says 
Garcia, "because the atmosphere of the festival is 
somewhat low key and informal, so people can 
slip away and talk without all the pressure and 
craziness." Unlike festivals with markets attached, 
or those like Toronto's Festival of Festivals, with 
250-plus entries, the total number of feature- 
length films at Sundance is a manageable 75, with 
only 33 in the dramatic and documentary compe- 
titions combined (plus dozens of shorts). Many of 
these works are innovative in form and subject 
and are clearly labors of love, not cash cows; 
relatively few films at Sundance come across as 
Hollywood wannabes. Similarly, while the festi- 
val schedules some nuts-and-bolts seminars, like 
this year's excellent What's the Deal? Buying and 
Selling the Independent Film, the majority of 
panels deal with questions of aesthetics, ethics, 
and trends — from the current explosion of gay 
and lesbian cinema to the advisability of creating 
a definition of "black documentary." 

Like the festival. Park City is small and quite 
manageable. A former silver mining town a half- 
hour's drive from Salt Lake City, the resort has 
few distractions beyond skiing and power shop- 



JUNE 1992 



THE INDEPENDENT 13 



ping. Complementary shuttle buses can) testis al- 
goers from theater to theater and to the reception 
area, located above the bowling alle) on Main 
Street, w here people easil) mix. comparing notes 
and trading business cards over beer. Hiking fur- 
ther up the steep slope — be) ond the main theater, 
rebuilt in the late 1920s in the popular Egyptian 
Re\ i\ al St) le. the price) shops, and the strands of 
Christmas lights — the buildings thin out. giving 
wa) to pines, rock outcroppings. and glistening 
snowdrifts. Rock music drifts from ski-bum cot- 
tages, town dogs trot h\ with apparent destina- 
tions, and the brisk air smells of snow and burning 
firewood. It feels more like camp than work. 

Until week two. Dubbed by some festival staff 
the Attack of the Killer Bs. the second week, or 
Package B. includes the competition awards cer- 
emony, which attracts distributors and Holly- 
wood reps eager to cut to the chase. The energ> 
level takes off as filmmakers and buyers begin 
their courting dance in earnest. 

Although Sundance does not provide the same 
services as a market — there are no color-coded 
badges, for instance, nor advance lists of regis- 
tered buyers and contact information — the festi- 
val does make an effort to bring filmmakers and 
buyers together. In addition to a hospitality suite. 
w hich acts as the central meeting place and hang- 
out, the festival offers Breakfast Clubs, afternoon 
receptions, and nightly parties. The invitational 
breakfast meetings range from unstructured gath- 
erings, w here people are left to mingle and make 
their own introductions, to arranged private meet- 
ings between a filmmaker and distributor. "We'll 
act as a middleman to get two people together." 
says Garcia, "and pass information to X that Y 
wants to meet them." At the afternoon receptions 
as well, he notes, "reps from the festival are there 
to matchmake." 

But Sundance's self-definition as a festival 
causes some filmmakers to arrive less prepared 
than they ultimately wish. Says Marlon Riggs. 
whose documentary Color Adjustment: Blacks in 
Prime Time already had distribution lined up w ith 
California Newsreel, "The informality creates 
some confusion. Is it a market or not? No one told 
us about bringing posters. Also, there were no 
advance materials like the Independent Feature 
Film Market — lists of buyers, and so on. As a 
result, it can be difficult to do business, if that's 
what you're looking for. In the second week, 
when filmmakers were pushing their press kits, I 
felt pressure that I should be doing something. 
The films that sold out were those that treated the 
festival like a market, using press materials, post- 
ers, etc." 

Such was the case with Brother's Keeper, a 
feature-length verite documentary about the trial 
of a dairy farmer in upstate New York on charges 
of fratricide. Codirector Joe Berlinger was for- 
merly the marketing director at Maysles Films, 
where partner Bruce Sinofsky worked as film 
editor until the two formed their own company 
last year. Having also been at the advertising 



agenc) Ogilvy and 

Mather. Berlinger put 
what he knew about pro- 
motion to good use on 
Brother' s Keeper. All its 
screenings sold out in ad- 
vance — two of them a 
week before the festival 
even started. 

The film's marketing 
campaign — perhaps the 
most ambitious and ef- 
fective of all the films at 
Sundance this year — 
consisted of a three-part 
strategy. Prior to the fes- 
tival. Berlinger sent mail- 
ings to key industry ex- 
ecutives, agents, and 
press in New York and 
Los Angeles, following 
up w ith phone calls to 20 
key people at distribu- 
tion companies. Early 
contact with the Sun- 
dance press office also 
led to advance radio in- 
terviews and newspaper 
stories in Utah. "That 
helped sell tickets." says 
Berlinger. who notes that 
generally, "It was frus- 
trating getting press 
[as a documentary film- 
maker]. The festival 
seemed more star and fic- 
tion-feature oriented. So 
m\ answer was to be- 
friend the press desk." 

The second phase, at 
the festival itself, was "a 
networking orgy." aided 
by slick press kits and give-aways: 300 buttons, 
which Berlinger distributed to "every volunteer" 
working the festival and registration desk, and 30 
baseball hats. (After music group REM's Michael 
Stipe appeared wearing a Brother's Keeper hat. 
notes Berlinger. his supply was quickly snatched 
up. ) In addition. "I got here early to put up posters 
in key locations." taking care to ship them out in 
advance, he recalls, "but I chose not to slather 
stickers everywhere: the festival seemed too dig- 
nified." The third part, following the festival, was 
"basic Sales 101 follow-up." says Berlinger. 

What were the results of this S5.000 marketing 
campaign? (Brothers Keeper's production budget 
was S375.000. which American Playhouse cov- 
ered.) A sale to the UK's Channel 4 was clinched 
as a direct result of Sundance, reports Berlinger. 
In addition, the film went to Berlin w ith an "in- 
credibly positive review" in Variety, as well as 
two other mentions in the trade paper's special 
Berlin issue. Because it won the documentary 
Audience Award at Sundance, the film was also 




included in numerous festival wrap-ups. "All the 
positive press has a cumulative effect." Berlinger 
believes. At Berlin. Brothers Keeper sold to tele- 
vision in Germany ( ARD ). the Netherlands ( NOS ), 
and France (Le Sept), and signed on with foreign 
sales agent Jane Balfour. Subsequently at MIP. 
the international television market, there were 
sales to the Swedes. Finns, and Australians. In the 
US. several theatrical distributors have expressed 
interest. 

Beyond the obvious benefits of publicity, dis- 
tribution, and development possibilities. Sundance 
can also result in unanticipated contacts and plea- 
sures. For director Tom Kalin. it was seeing his 
film Swoon projected for the first time. "It was 
thrilling." says Kalin. a video artist whose first 
foray into film, photographed by Ellen Kuras. 
netted an award for excellence in cinematogra- 
phy, "the experience of being in a theater w ith a 
packed audience, versus 10 people watching a 
videotape." 

For Jon Geramus. whose company Strand Re- 



14 THE INDEPENDENT 



JUNE 1992 



Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofslc/s Brother's 
Keeper chronicles the conviction and trial of 
Delbert Ward, a dairy farmer in upstate New 
York who was accused of smothering his sick 
brother. 

Courtesy Creative Thinking International 



leasing acquired four films last year, there was the 
discovery of the young actress Fairuza Blak in 
Gas, Food, and Lodging, Anders' film about a 
single mother and her two teenage daughters 
living near a highway stop in the Southwest. 
Geramus was not only looking for pick-ups at 
Sundance but also production financing, so this 
was precisely the kind of contact he'll keep in 
mind for future film projects. "She was fantastic. 
If we have a hole [in a production] for someone 
who's 16 or 17, I'd love to meet her." 

Anders, in turn, was delighted to ran across 
Jean Pierre Gorin's My Crasy Life, an intriguing 
and controversial documentary which played out 
of competition but was given special recognition 
by the documentary competition jury. The film is 
about a Samoan street gang in Long Beach — 
"charming killers," as Gorin called them — that 
was 80 percent scripted in collaboration with the 
gang members. Since Anders' next project, tenta- 
tively called La Loca, is about female gang mem- 
bers in LA — "their love lives, their babies; ro- 
mantic but not romanticized" — she asked Gorin if 
they could set up a screening of My Crasy Life for 
her girls "to give them confidence." Anders says, 
"They don't like most gang films. They'll go, 
'Yeah, I saw Boy: n the Hood. That was fake. So 
was New Jack City."' She continues, "I like that 
[My Crasy Life] didn't moralize; it didn't judge, 
which is what I'm trying not to do with mine." 

The other attraction of Sundance, says Anders, 
is the great number of independent filmmakers 
who attend, giving her the chance to meet and 
trade stories with people who are fighting the 
same professional battles. "The place is filled 
with peers — not mentors," she says approvingly. 
Sundance is also distinguished by being "the 
coldest" festival, director Les Blank notes dryly. 
"It's the healthiest," quips Swoon associate pro- 
ducer James Schamus. And it's now one of the 
most prestigious. Schamus continues, "At 
Sundance is the top 10 percent of independent 
films in a given year. It ' s a great success just to get 
in the festival. Then the challenge is to find 
distribution." 



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